I have a 3 year old son who eats paper. He started when he was about 18 months old. I though at first that he was still teething and it would go away within a few months. It's actually gotten worse. It's almost like an addiction. I don't know if he has control of it or not. Some days, he refuses food, but will eat paper. He will eat any paper he can get his hands on. I can't even trust him with a book. He seems to prefer toilet paper, which is kind of causing a problem with toilet training. He's more concerned with eating the toilet paper than he is with using the toilet. I've tried giving him a snack when I see that he's going after paper, which works temporarily. Should I worry? Is this as abnormal as it seems to me? He also has a speech delay, and was a late walker. He's been to the neurologist, geneticist, and is currently in speech therapy. Doctors say he's probably just a late talker. They can't find anything else wrong with him as far as his brain or chromosomes. Could his eating paper be a symptom of some kind of deficiency? I've just never heard of this kind of thing before. Please help.
Pica is the technical term for persistent ingesting of items that are not food. There are instances when pica seems to occur secondary to some mineral deficiency, but it sounds like you have explored the medical diagnostic route thoroughly. The best approach to this behavior is to manage the behavior, and close supervision is far and away the most effective management tool. Essentially you prevent the behavior by close monitoring. Pica often does occur in the context of developmental lags or delays, and this is the case with your son. Some good news to offer you is that the behavior generally does go away, usually quite spontaneously.
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