When children eat paper and other odd items, it is generally due to the child being deficient in zinc or iron. These unusual cravings and the act of eating items that are used to satisfy the cravings is commonly referred to as pica.
Between 10 to 30 percent of children ages of 1 to 6 years have the disorder and eat clay, ice, dirt or paper. There is no specific test for pica, but levels of iron and zinc may be tested in the blood. Uncontrolled pica may lead to different problems, such as iron-deficiency anemia and lead poisoning. The treatment for pica is first to address the issue of deficiency of iron and zinc in the body.