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Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.81

     challenging words:    anemia, autism, benign, child-safety, compulsive, epilepsy, intestinal, life-threatening, nonfood, nonfoods, obstruction, pica, psychological, reinforcement, separately, diagnosis
     content words:    Poison Control

By Jennifer Kenny

1     Have you ever seen a child eat sand out of the sandbox? Have you ever witnessed a toddler put a toy in his mouth? You probably have since these are both common in young children who are curious about what's around them.
2     Of course, now that you are older, you know that people aren't supposed to eat things that aren't food. However, some people still do. This behavior is known as pica. The term pica comes from a Latin word for a bird with a large appetite.
3     To meet the criteria for the condition known as pica, there must be cravings of nonfood items. These cravings last at least a month. These cravings must be compulsive, meaning the person eats it even when it's restricted. That means the person knows this behavior is not allowed. Pica occurs in children over 18 to 24 months because before that this behavior is considered normal. To be called pica, the eating of nonfood items can't be part of a cultural or religious practice, either. Pica is considered an eating disorder. Pica occurs throughout the world.

Paragraphs 4 to 8:
For the complete story with questions: click here for printable

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