Rickets is the softening and weakening of bones in children, usually because of an extreme and prolonged vitamin D deficiency. Rare inherited problems also can cause rickets. If you shun the sun, suffer from milk allergies, or adhere to a strict vegan diet, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to skin being exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin D helps your child’s body absorb calcium and phosphorus from food. Not enough vitamin D makes it difficult to maintain proper calcium and phosphorus levels in bones, which can cause rickets. A vitamin D deficiency may result from a low dietary intake of vitamin D or low exposure to or absorption of ultraviolet (UV) rays. This means that children who spend a lot of time indoors may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency and rickets.
Types of Rickets
Rickets is of the following types:
1. Nutritional Rickets– This is caused due to intake of food which lacks in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.
2. Hypophosphatemic Rickets– It is caused due to low levels of phosphate. It is an X-linked genetic disorder where the kidneys are not able to control the amount of phosphate excreted in the urine.
3. Renal Rickets– People suffering from kidney disorders have renal rickets. They are unable to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate excreted in the urine.
Symptoms for Rickets
Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are subtle.
- Bone pain or tenderness.
- Bones that grow slowly.
- Delayed growth.
- Delayed motor skills.
- Pain in the spine, pelvis and legs.
- Wide joints in the elbows and wrists.
- Dental cavities and irregularities.
- Muscle weakness.
- Large forehead or abdomen.
- An unusual shape to the ribs and breastbone.
- Bowed legs or knock knees.
- Curved legs.
- Thickened wrists and ankles.
- Breastbone projection.
- Deformities in teeth.
- Deformities in the skeleton like bowlegs, and protruding breastbone.
Causes for Rickets
It is a commonly occurring disorder in children, especially ones with darker skin due to lack of exposure to sunlight, is also seen in premature infants. This condition of rickets in adults is called osteomalacia which is usually characterized by soft bones. Vitamin D is required to absorb 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. Use of sunscreen blocks the rays and hence the production of Vitamin D by the skin is reduced.
Sunlight. Your child’s skin produces vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. But children in developed countries tend to spend less time outdoors. They’re also more likely to use sunscreen, which blocks the sun’s rays that trigger the skin’s production of vitamin D.
Your kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form. As people age, their kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form, thus increasing their risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Food. Fish oil, egg yolks and fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel contain vitamin D. Vitamin D has also been added to some foods and beverages, such as milk, cereal and some fruit juices.
You have dark skin. The pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. Some studies show that older adults with darker skin are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Mother’s vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy. A baby born to a mother with severe vitamin D deficiency can be born with signs of rickets or develop them within a few months after birth. When infants are breastfed without Vitamin D supplements and Possessing diseases which inhibit the absorption of Vitamin D.
Blood tests: These look for low levels of calcium and phosphorus and high levels of alkaline phosphatase.
An arterial blood gas test: This check for acidity in the blood.
X-rays: These may reveal calcium loss in bones or alterations in the structure or shape of the bones.
A bone biopsy: This can confirm rickets, but doctors rarely use it.
This condition can be treated under proper guidance if the underlying cause is diagnosed early on. It can also be treated without any major bone deformities, however, certain conditions might need surgical intervention. Most cases of rickets can be treated with vitamin D and calcium supplements.
Follow your child’s doctor’s directions as to dosage. Too much vitamin D can be harmful. Your child’s doctor will monitor your child’s progress with X-rays and blood tests. Rickets treatment involves increasing the individual’s intake of the missing minerals or vitamins in the body.
your doctor might suggest special bracing to position your child’s body appropriately as the bones grow. More-severe skeletal deformities might require surgery..
They may also suggest:
Taking fish oil.
Vitamin D supplements need to be given to infants of the breastfeeding age. Enough exposure of the skin to the sunlight improves the condition.
Making some dietary changes.
Rickets can be treated by eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D, consuming calcium and phosphorus rich food.
If rickets is caused due to a genetic disorder, the patient is prescribed vitamin D hormones and phosphorous
Consuming calcium and phosphate.
Formulating a diet plan that centers on foods rich in vitamin D.
Getting enough sun exposure.
Braces might be required in case of skeletal deformities to position the bones correctly as the child grow.
Vitamin D fortified foods, including milk, many kinds of cereal, some juices, some soy milk products and some brand of margarine.
Too much vitamin D can be harmful. Your child’s doctor will monitor your child’s progress with X-rays and blood tests.
Hope this Symptoms and cure article will be helpful to all. Do not forget to share your valuable suggestions if any.