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Pica in Pregnancy Among Mexican-Born Women: Effects of Magnesium Carbonate Ingestion

Boulay, Giselle

Pica is a condition characterized by the repetitive ingestion of non-food items for more
than one month. Due to the bizarre nature of this condition, pica has been studied and theorized
over for many years. It is most often found among children, the mentally ill, and pregnant
women. In regards to pica during pregnancy, the literature on pica covers the obviously
detrimental effects on mothers of consuming clearly harmful substances. Magnesium carbonate,
more commonly referred to as chalk, is one of the most frequently ingested substances by
women during pregnancy. While often found within common brands of antacids, magnesium
carbonate is frequently sold in block form and advertised as edible products within certain
regions of the United States and Mexico. The immediate effects of chalk ingestion upon a
pregnant mother has been explored to some extent, but not to the degree in which the effects of
clearly harmful substances have been examined. A large gap is found in the literature when
considering the effects of more benign substances such as magnesium carbonate not only on the
mother, but the developing fetus as well. More specifically, the current literature fails to address
the question of whether magnesium carbonate ingestion during pregnancy could carry enduring,
long-term effects for a fetus post-birth that could detrimentally influence later cognitive, motor,
and/or behavioral development.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Psychology (Barnard College)
Degree
B.A., Barnard College
Published Here
May 26, 2011
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