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Most of us have seen children, especially those between the ages of 2 and 3 eating mud, sand , chalk or clay. I remember my sister, when she was around the same age, licking the balcony wall, so very often! This craving for eating non-nutritive stuff is usually harmless, but if it lasts for more than a month and shows no signs of going away, then it can develop into a full-blown disorder called pica, from the Latin word for the Magpie bird, who can eat almost anything. Pica is a chemical imbalance, and the causes could be many- poverty, disruptions in family harmony, parental neglect. Pica can even occur in pregnant woman, or in children with autism.

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