Characteristics of Pica Behaviors Among Women in Western Kenya
Chung, E.O.; Omollo, D.O.; Mattah, B.; Hickey, M.D.; Salmen, C.R.; Milner, E.M.; Brashares, J.S.; Young, S.L.; Fernald, L.C.H.; Fiorella, K.J.
Background: Pica, the craving and purposeful consumption of nonfoods, is poorly understood. We described the prevalence of pica among women on Mfangano Island, Kenya, and examined sociodemographic and health correlates. Methods: Our cross-sectional study included 299 pregnant or postpartum women in 2012. We used a 24-h recall to assess pica, defined as consumption of earth (geophagy), charcoal/ash, or raw starches (amylophagy) and built multivariable logistic regression models to examine sociodemographic and health correlates of pica. Results: Eighty-one women (27.1%) engaged in pica in the previous 24 h, with 59.3% reporting amylophagy and 56.8% reporting geophagy, charcoal, and/or ash consumption. The most common substances consumed were raw cassava (n = 30, 36.6%), odowa, a chalky, soft rock-like earth (n = 21, 25.6%), and soil (n = 17, 20.7%). Geophagy, charcoal, and/or ash consumption was negatively associated with breastfeeding (OR = 0.38, 95% CI: 0.18–0.81), and amylophagy was associated with pregnancy (OR = 4.31, 95% CI: 1.24–14.96). Pica was more common within one of six study regions (OR = 3.64, 95% CI: 1.39–9.51). We found no evidence of an association between food insecurity and pica. Conclusion: Pica was a common behavior among women, and the prevalence underscores the need to uncover its dietary, environmental, and cultural etiologies.
Journal of health, population and nutrition
Volume & Issue:
Vol. 16, Iss. 14
pica; geophagy; amylophagy; pregnancy; breastfeeding; Kenya
Previously Published As
Chung, EO, Omollo, DO, Mattah, B, Hickey, MD, Salmen, CR, Milner, EM, Brashares, JS, Young, SL, Fernald, LCH, Fiorella, KJ. 2016. Characteristics of Pica Behaviors Among Women in Western Kenya. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition. In review.
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