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Lead poisoning due to geophagia: The consumption of miniature pottery

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DOI: 10.4236/ojped.2012.21010    4,258 Downloads   7,312 Views   Citations


Geophagia (the pica of pottery, clay, earth, or dirt) is practiced before and during pregnancy in several countries, including Mexico, Turkey, Australia, and some African countries, and has been linked with cultural fertility beliefs and the satisfaction of cravings. Unfortunately, consumption of contaminated pottery can represent a source of lead exposure. Concerns regarding ingested pottery are two-fold; first, that people consuming these pots might be exposed to high concentrations of lead, and, second, that ingestion of these pots by pregnant women could result in elevated in utero lead exposure for the fetus. Very few published articles exist on this topic. In an effort to investigate “pot eating”, this study aims to summarize published case studies on lead poisonings resulting from consumption of contaminated pottery. Additionally, several pottery items that are sold for the purpose of consumption were located and analyzed. This paper investigates the risk that “pot eating” poses by reviewing the literature, examining case studies, and analyzing the availability and lead concentration of edible pottery. Preliminary research indicates that although it is not common, “pot eating” can represent a high-risk lead exposure for pregnant women and their fetuses.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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Phipps, A. , Fels, H. , Burns, M. and Gerstenberger, S. (2012) Lead poisoning due to geophagia: The consumption of miniature pottery. Open Journal of Pediatrics, 2, 60-66. doi: 10.4236/ojped.2012.21010.


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