(Latin: magpie; related to Latin, picus, "woodpecker"; probably translated from Greek kissa, kitta, "magpie, jay")
In medicine, an appetite for substances unfit as food; probably a reference to eating habits similar to those of magpies which are known to eat almost anything or are prone to indiscriminate feeding.
2. A vitiated appetite that craves what is unfit for food; such as, chalk, ashes, coal, etc.
A craving for something not normally regarded as nutritive. For example, dirt. Pica is a classic clue to iron deficiency in children. It also occurs in zinc deficiency. Pica is also seen as a symptom in several neurobiological disorders, including autism and Tourette's syndrome, and is sometimes seen during pregnancy.3. Allotriophagy; cittosis; compulsive eating of nonnutritive substances; such as, ice (pagophagia), dirt (geophagia), paint, clay, and laundry starch; or other items.
Typically, the subjects eat one kind of material; the degree of compulsivity varies; however, people try to hide the impulse and their behavior from their families and only rarely discuss it as a complaint with their physicians.
Iron therapy is highly effective, and within one or two weeks not only does the pica disappear, but the original craving often becomes a revulsion.