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February 1956

Emotional Factors in the Etiology and Treatment of Lead Poisoning: A Study of Pica in Children

Author Affiliations

Washington, D. C.
From the Department of Psychiatry, Children's Hospital, and Department of Pediatrics (Pediatric-Psychiatry) George Washington University School of Medicine.

AMA Am J Dis Child. 1956;91(2):144-149. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1956.02060020146007

In order to treat lead poisoning in children adequately, it is necessary to consider the factors which cause children to ingest lead-containing substances. Frequently children hospitalized for lead poisoning are treated for their medical illness, only to return with the same history, and it is found that they have continued to ingest substances containing lead.

Six cases of lead poisoning admitted to Children's Hospital have been studied from the psychiatric aspects. In all of the cases, a history of pica (an abnormal appetite for substances not fit for food) was present. Children go through a period in their development, beginning at about age 6 months, when it is normal for them to put objects in their mouths. This period ends at about the age of 12 months. Gesell1 states, "Oral patterns become more or less restricted to the feeding situation at about the end of the first year; toys

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