[Pagophagia in iron deficiency anemia]

Rinsho Ketsueki. 2014 Apr;55(4):436-9.
[Article in Japanese]


The relationship between pagophagia (ice pica) and iron deficiency anemia was studied. All 81 patients with iron deficiency anemia defined as hemoglobin <12.0 g/dl and ferritin level <12 ng/ml were interviewed about their habits of eating ice or other non-food substances. Pagophagia was defined as compulsive and repeated ingestion of at least one tray of ice or ice eating which was relieved after iron administration. Pagophagia was present in 13 patients (16.0%). All patients who received oral iron were periodically assessed employing a questionnaire on pagophagia and laboratory data. Iron therapy can cure the pagophagia earlier than hemoglobin recovery and repair of tissue iron deficiency. Although the pathogenesis of pagophagia is unclear, a biochemical approach involving the central nervous system might elucidate the mechanism underlying these abnormal behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / complications*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cholestyramine Resin
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ice*
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Pica / drug therapy
  • Pica / epidemiology
  • Pica / etiology*
  • Prevalence


  • Biomarkers
  • Hemoglobins
  • Ice
  • Cholestyramine Resin
  • Ferritins