Pica practices of pregnant women in Nairobi Kenya
Aim: To establish the prevalence of pica behaviour during pregnancy; to identify the substances commonly ingested and their prevalence; and to determine the characteristics of women who reported practicing pica.
Method: Was descriptive, cross sectional study involving use of questionnaire administered in interview format. Study was conducted at Pumwani Maternity Hospital, Nairobi, Kneya. Participants included a convenience sample of 1071 ante natal women with a mean age of 28.1 (Í7.3) years. Subjects were selected based on availability, accessibility, and willingness to participate in the study.
Results: Seven hundred and ninety three (74.0%) participants reported practicing pica regularly on daily basis. Pica prevalence categorised by substances ingested was as follows: soft stones (odowa), 89.8%; soil, 61.2%; and others, 9.6% and no pica, 26.0%. Majority of women who reported practicing pica (62.5%) ingested more than one substance. Most women who practiced pica reported having experienced strong cravings prior to ingestion of pica items, childhood pica, pica before pregnancy, pica in previous pregnancy and a history of pica in family members and significant others inthe community.
Conclusions: Pica prevalence was significantly high among the subjects indicating that pica in pregnancy might be more common and widespread in Kenya than health care providers assume or observe. There is need to routinely screen pregnant women for pica during antenatal visits as this will provide a more systematic and a less expensive way of establishing its epidemiologic status. A nationwide investigation of pica prevalence is also recommended in order to establish possible health consequences of pica on mother and child.