Are anemia, gastrointestinal disorders, and pregnancy outcome associated with pica behavior?


OBJECTIVE: This study was conducted to determine the relationship between pica and anemia, gastrointestinal disorders, as well as pregnancy outcomes in pregnant women.

METHODOLOGY: This study was a prospective study carried out between January 2016 and June 2017 and was performed on 226 pregnant women who attended four different health care centers to receive routine prenatal care. Sampling was done considering the inclusion criteria, in two steps: cluster sampling and random sampling. Data collection was done using a researcher-made checklist. The significance level was set at p  = 0.05.

RESULTS: The average age of the participants was 26.10±6.27. The prevalence of pica in pregnant women in the first, second, and third trimesters was 9.3, 8, and 2.1%, respectively. The most common pica craving among pregnant women was for ice and frozen materials (68.2%). There was a statistically significant relationship between gastrointestinal disorders and anemia with pica (p  < 0.001). There was also a significant relationship between birth weights of babies born to mothers with pica and those without pica (p  = 0.005).

CONCLUSION: Pica in pregnant women had a significant relationship with gastrointestinal disorders and anemia during pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes. Thus, in addition to providing healthcare services, health care professionals should consider patients’ pica practices and make the necessary interventions. 

*Corresponding Author: 

Soheila Rabiepoor, Reproductive Health Research Center, Midwifery Department, Urmia University of Medical Sciences, Urmia, Iran. E-mail: