Pica Patterns, Toxocariasis, and Elevated Blood Lead in Children

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  • Department of Clinical Studies, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Allegheny County Health Department, 3800 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Blood samples were obtained during a lead screening program from 100 children aged 1–6 years in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, to determine whether there was any association between specific forms of pica and infection with Toxocara canis, the principal cause of visceral larva migrans in the United States, or elevated blood lead levels. Significant associations were found between: 1) feces, soil, or grass pica and Toxocara infection; 2) paint or plaster pica and elevated blood lead; and 3) dog ownership and Toxocara infection. These findings suggest that an accurate pica history may be useful in identifying potential health problems in children.