Prevalence of pica consumption among pregnant women from lower and higher economic groups.
An interesting phenomenon has been observed amongst pregnant women world wide, spanning over a number of decades; This is the consumption of non-food substances like soil, clay, chalk and many others. This practice is known as pica. A cross sectional study was carried out in Nakuru Municipality to determine the prevalence of pica consumption amongst pregnant women of different socio-economic groups. The factors considered ill the study were:- Socio-economic status (SES), dietary patterns, types of substances consumed, mineral elements present in these substances, reasons for consumption, amounts ingested and problems associated with pica consumption. A total of 422 pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy, were identified and studied. The investigation involved administration of a questionnaire and analysis of mineral contents of selected pica samples. The overall prevalence of pica consumption amongst the pregnant women in the study area was 45%. There was no relationship between socio-economic status and pica consumption, nor was consumption influenced by previous exposure. Results showed that pica consumption begins mainly during the second trimester, a time when maternal nutritional needs are said to be on the increase. The types of substances consumed were mainly earth substances and the most common were loose soil, roasted clay, termite clay and construction stones dug out of quarries. On analysis, these substances yielded some mineral elements that could be of use to the body like calcium, iron and potassium among others. From the reasons given by the women as to why they consume pica substances, it was not easy to establish the real cause for this practice and therefore more research is needed in this area.