Rickets

Rickets is a Vitamin-D deficiency which may occur during infancy or childhood. It happens when there is not enough vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate. This process is necessary for proper bone development and growth. This disorder is not uncommon in certain areas of the world.

CAUSES

  • Poor nutrition.

  • Hereditary rickets (from your family).

  • Lack of exposure to the sun. Sunlight helps the body make vitamin D in the skin.

  • Malabsorption (the gut [bowel] is not able to take in foods normally) syndromes. Anything that slows digestion or absorption of fats will lessen absorption of the vitamin. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin.

SYMPTOMS

Problems commonly seen include:

  • Teeth problems.

  • Bowed legs.

  • Bone pain or tenderness.

  • Pelvic deformities.

  • Bone disease.

  • Muscle cramps.

  • Leg fractures.

  • Misshapen skull.

  • Bumps in the rib cage (rachitic rosary).

  • Restlessness.

  • Growth problems.

  • Scoliosis or kyphosis.

  • Pectus carinatum (pigeon chest).

  • Softening of bones.

DIAGNOSIS

  • Your caregiver may make the diagnosis by taking a medical history and doing an exam.

  • Finding low levels of Vitamin D in the blood.

  • Taking blood tests to measure calcium and phosphorus levels may be needed to prove the diagnosis.

  • X-rays of affected bones are sometimes taken.

TREATMENT

  • 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day are recommended for infants and children.

  • Breastfed infants should receive vitamin D supplements.

  • Infants taking over 32 ounces of formula (fortified with Vitamin D) per day will receive enough Vitamin D.

  • Some good sources of Vitamin D include:

  • 32 ounces of milk fortified with Vitamin D will provide adequate Vitamin D for children.

  • Fish, liver and egg yolks are other sources of Vitamin D.

  • Your caregiver can give you a prescription for vitamin D, if this diet does not appeal to your child's taste.

  • Sunlight exposure will help.

  • Braces and surgery are sometimes needed for bone problems.

  • Families who have a genetic cause for the rickets can receive counseling.