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Jack Schroder
Jack Schroder, retired investigator for Pub Health
Category: Health
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Experience:  I have written two books on medical malpractice. Many years grad hours in Public Health
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my 3 year old son is consuming toilet paper and dirt and he is anemic

Customer Question

should i be concerned that my 3 year old son is consuming toilet paper and dirt and he is anemic . his iron level was at 9?
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Kerry replied 11 years ago.

HiCustomer/P>

Theories about what causes pica abound. The nutritional theory suggests that nutritional deficiency, such as iron deficiency, trigger specific cravings. Some evidence supports the hypothesis that at least some pica is a response to dietary deficiency - nutritional deficiencies are often associated with pica and correction of that deficiency has improved symptoms.


Known as geophagia, eating earth substances such as clay or dirt is a form of pica that can cause iron deficiency.


If your child continues to consume nonfood items, he or she may be at risk for serious health problems, including:



  • lead poisoning (from eating paint chips in older buildings with lead-based paint)
  • bowel problems (from consuming indigestible substances like hair, cloth, etc.)
  • intestinal obstruction or perforation (from eating objects that could get lodged in the intestines)
  • dental injury (from eating hard substances that could harm the teeth)
  • parasitic infections (from eating dirt or feces)

Medical emergencies and death can occur if the craved substance is toxic or contaminated with lead or mercury, or if the item forms an indigestible mass blocking the intestines. Pica involving lead-containing substances during pregnancy may be associated with an increase in both maternal and fetal lead levels.


http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/pica.html


Kerry

Expert:  Jack Schroder replied 11 years ago.
What has your doctor said about your son's problem? Obviiusly you have seen a doctor because you know the iron level in his blood. You should ask your doctor to sit down and talk to you. Is he a pediatrician, general practitioner or other? You or someone is paying that doctor to treat your child, that means because the patient is your child the doctor must talk to you.
If this doctor is a general practice doctor he may be practicing beyond his skill levels. Do not be afraid to make this doctor talk to you. If he is over his head, then take your child to a qualified pediatrician.
Pica, or eating unwholesome materials, is dangerous and not something that you should just wait to pass. The previous answer gave you a lot of good information, but that does not answer why YOUR child is behaving as he is. If he is in school, perhaps the school psychologist can help you. I think you need to get some good help. But first ask that doctor to talk to you. If he can't, he is not helping.

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