Pica suspected in Chinese toddler who excretes nails

16:45, June 12, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

An 18-month-old Chinese girl who repeatedly excreted nails maybe suffering from pica, an eating disorder characterized by persistent cravings to eat nonfood items such as dirt or cigarette butts, doctors said Saturday.

Pediatricians from Xi'an, capital of the northwestern Shaanxi Province, made the diagnosis after they studied the bizarre case of Ting Ting (not her real name).

"Pica is likely, but we need to carry out further research," said Prof. Gao Ya from the No. 2 Hospital Affiliated to Xi'an Jiaotong University. "It's very strange where she got all these nails."

Ting Ting's mother, Liu Xiaoya, claimed they had no such nails at home. "Her grandfather said he had some, but didn't know whether any were missing," Liu said.

Pica is a serious eating disorder often caused by deficiency of zinc, iron or other trace elements. It can result in serious health problems such as lead poisoning or iron-deficiency anemia.

Tests of the girl's blood taken Friday, however, indicated her zinc, calcium and magnesium levels were normal. Only her iron level was slightly low, said Dr. Chen Hongxiong, of the Children's Hospital of Yulin City, where the girl is being treated.

The girl excreted 21 nails and a steel pin over the past month, but showed no sign of an ailment and ate and drank as usual.

She continued to excrete nails in hospital. Latest X-rays showed she still had a nail and a steel pin in her stomach. "We need to help her expel these as soon as possible without causing injury," said Chen.



  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Giant red lantern lights up in Tiananmen Square to celebrate the coming National Day on Oct. 1. (Xinhua/Li Xin)
  • A ceremony is held in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan, on Sept. 28, 2011, to commemorate the 2,562nd birthday of Confucius (551-479 BC), a Chinese thinker, educationist and philosopher. (Xinhua/Wu Ching-teng)
  • The world's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner for delivery arrives at Haneda airport in Tokyo, capital of Japan, on Sept. 28, 2011. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, whose buyer is All Nippon Airways (ANA), will implement a flight of ANA on Oct. 26 from Tokyo's Narita Airport to Hong Kong in south China. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)
  • A Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows what is believed to be human jawbone found inside a mass grave near Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, Libya, Spet. 27, 2011. The NTC on Sunday said they had found a mass grave containing the bodies of 1,270 people killed by Gaddafi's security forces in a 1996 massacre at Abu Salim prison in southern Tripoli. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
  • Rescue workers and local residents search for survivors after a building collapsed in old Delhi, India, Sept. 27, 2011. At least 10 people were killed and 35 injured when an old three-storey building collapsed. More than a dozen people are still feared trapped under the debris, police said. (Xinhua/Partha Sarkar)
  • A visitor has flying experience in the windmill castle of Jinshitan National Holiday resort in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province, Sept. 27, 2011. The castle is a 23-meter-high building with 21 meters in diameter. The castle uses wind tunnel to make objects floating in the air. It is the first indoor stadium in China, which enables people to have flying experience. (Xinhua/Zhang Chunlei)
Hot Forum Discussion