Lead Pica Produced in Rats

Science  11 Jan 1974:
Vol. 183, Issue 4120, pp. 92-94
DOI: 10.1126/science.183.4120.92


Weanling rats eating a low calcium diet voluntarily ingested lead acetate solutions in much greater proportions than did iron-deficient or control weanlings. This increased ingestion occurred even with high concentrations of lead acetate which normal weanlings found extremely aversive. Chronic injections of lead acetate into weanlings did not change lead ingestion, indicating an absence of behavioral regulation of body lead levels. Female lead-injected weanlings did show a significant increase in calcium ingestion. Calcium deficiency may be one component of lead pica.