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What is Rickets?

Rickets is a childhood bone disease in which the bones become soft and prone to fracture. Bones are weakened by adequate nutrients, especially vitamin D3 It is also caused by calcium and phosphate deficiencies.


Weak bones can lead to osteoporosis. Vitamin D is best obtained by exposing the skin to the sun. Other good sources of vitamin D are fatty fish (such as tuna and salmon) and egg yolks.

In children, especially those with dark skin due to lack of sunlight, this disorder is also seen in premature babies. In adults, this bone-building condition is called osteoporosis and is commonly known as thin bones.

Rickets is usually diagnosed with blood tests and x-rays. Blood tests reveal the condition by a remarkably low calcium and phosphorus ratio and high phosphatase, which is alkaline in nature and indicated by changes in bone morphology through x-rays. A bone scan is also helpful in their diagnosis.

Types of Rickets

  • Nutritional Rickets – This is caused by eating foods lacking in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.
  • Hypophosphatemic rickets- Caused by low levels of phosphate. It is an X-linked genetic disorder in which the kidneys cannot control the amount of phosphate excreted in the urine.
  • Liver problems: People who suffer from liver problems have liver problems. They cannot control the amount of calcium and phosphate excreted in the urine.

Symptoms Of Rickets

  • Reduced growth and short height
  • Fractures in bones
  • Softening of bones
  • Pain in the bones of arms, legs, pelvis, and spine
  • Deformities in teeth
  • Deformities in the skeleton like bowlegs, and protruding breastbone.

Causes of Rickets

Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium from food. Lack of calcium and vitamin D or inability to absorb the same causes rickets.

Vitamin D is obtained through sunlight and food. Vitamin D is produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight. The use of sunscreen blocks radiation and therefore reduces the production of vitamin D from the skin.

Fish oils and fats and egg yolks contain vitamin D

Treatment Of Rickets

If the root cause is detected early, the condition can be treated with proper guidance. It can be treated in the absence of bone defects, however surgery may be required in some cases.

  • Rickets can be treated with foods high in protein, especially vitamin D, and foods high in calcium and phosphorus.
  • Children of nursing age should receive vitamin D. The condition improves with adequate sun exposure of the skin.
  • If rickets is due to a genetic disorder, vitamin D and phosphorus supplements are given to the patient.
  • Hand shaping may be required for proper orthopedic placement as the child grows.

Risk Factors Involved

  • Children between 3 and 36 months are the most common. This is when bones need more calcium and phosphate to grow.
  • Lactose intolerant children are more likely to develop rickets. In addition, babies who are dependent on breast milk develop the disease because breast milk is deficient in vitamin D.
  • Black children are the most vulnerable. Darker skin is less sensitive to sunlight and therefore does not produce vitamin D.
  • Children who live in areas with low sunlight or who spend most of their time at home may be susceptible.
  • It can also be passed down through successive generations.

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