Gestational Iron deficiency is associated with pica behaviors in adolescents

Rachel A. Lumish, Sera L. Young, Sunmin Lee, Elizabeth Cooper, Eva Pressman, Ronnie Guillet, Kimberly O. O'Brien*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

A relation between pica (the craving and purposive consumption of nonfood items) during pregnancy and anemia is observed frequently. However, fewstudies related pica behaviors to biomarkers of iron status, and little is known about pica prevalence in U.S. pregnant adolescents. To address this, we undertook a longitudinal study examining iron status and pica behaviors among a group of 158 pregnant adolescents (aged ≤ 18 y). Approximately two-thirds of the participants were African American and 25% were Hispanic. Maternal iron status indicators [hemoglobin, soluble transferrin receptor, serum ferritin (SF), total body iron (TBI), and serumhepcidin] were assessed during pregnancy (18.5-37.3 wk) and at delivery. Pica behavior was assessed up to 3 times across gestation. Among the 158 adolescents, 46% reported engaging in pica behavior. Substances ingested included ice (37%), starches (8%), powders (4%), and soap (3%). During pregnancy, mean SF [geometric mean: 13.6 μg/L (95% CI: 11.0, 17.0 μg/L)], TBI (mean ± SD: 2.5 ± 4.2 mg/kg), and hepcidin [geometric mean: 19.1 μg/L (95% CI: 16.3, 22.2 μg/L)] concentrations were significantly lower (P > 0.05) in the pica group (n = 72) than values observed among the non-pica group [SF, geometric mean: 21.1 μg/L (95% CI: 18.0, 25.0 μg/L); TBI, mean ± SD: 4.3 ± 3.5 mg/kg, hepcidin, geometric mean: 27.1 μg/L (95%: 23.1, 32.1 μg/L); n = 86]. Although additional studies must address the etiology of these relations, this practice should be screened for, given its association with low iron status and because many of the substances ingested may be harmful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1533-1539
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Volume144
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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