High prevalence of kaolin consumption in migrant women living in a major urban area of France: A cross-sectional investigation

Abstract : Geophagia is a feeding behavior involving the regular intake of soil, including clay-like kaolin. Frequent in Africa, kaolin consumption is associated with heavy metal intoxication, iron and other micronutrient deficiencies, geohelminth infection and inactivation of concomitantly taken drugs. It is expected that this practice would be imported into an asylum country during the immigration process. To confirm this hypothesis, a single center, cross-sectional study was conducted at the University Hospital of Nantes, France, whose main objective was to assess whether the prevalence of kaolin consumers was high in a migrant population living in a large French metropolitan area (the city of Nantes). Each woman consulting for the first time at the Medical and Psychosocial Gynecology Obstetric Unit during the inclusion period ranging from January 1, 2017, to July 1, 2017, was asked for consent to be included in the study. The main outcome was the proportion of positive answers regarding consumption of kaolin within the last twelve months, with its 95% confidence interval (CI). A logistic regression was performed to identify drivers of consumption, and a clustering approach was conducted to identify profiles of consumers. A total of 284 women were included in the study, of whom 110 (38.7%) were pregnant. Our main finding was a 14.1% (95% CI: 10.5-18.6) prevalence of clay consumers. Second, the characteristic most strongly associated with consumption was Central or West Africa origin (adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR) = 52.7; 95% CI: 13.7-202.2). Finally, 60% of consumers showed signs of addictive-like phenomena, and three profiles were identified, depicting a continuum of patients in regard to their control over their kaolin consumption. Our results suggest that kaolin consumption is frequent in particular subpopulations of migrants. This warrants further study of the clinical consequences of kaolin consumption and its associated addictive-like symptoms.
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Pascal Caillet, Maud Poirier, Marie Grall-Bronnec, Edouard Marchal, Alain Pineau, et al.. High prevalence of kaolin consumption in migrant women living in a major urban area of France: A cross-sectional investigation. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2019, 14 (7), pp.e0220557. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0220557⟩. ⟨inserm-02264191⟩

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