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Rickets Information

Rickets is a softening of the bones in children potentially leading to fractures and deformity. Rickets is a bone disease that affects children when these deficiencies occur. It causes progressive softening and weakening of the bones' structure. The term rickets is believed to have come from an old English word 'wrickken' meaning to twist or bend and was a very common condition in Victorian times. Today, it is very rare. Rickets is caused by lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate, which leads to softening and weakening of the bones. Rickets is among the most frequent childhood diseases in many developing countries. Rickets is fairly rare in the US. It is most likely to occur during periods of rapid growth, when the body demands high levels of calcium and phosphate. Vitamin D helps the body properly control calcium and phosphate levels in the body. When the body is deficient in vitamin D, it is unable to properly control calcium and phosphate levels. Rickets may be seen in young children 6 to 24 months old and is uncommon in newborns. There is a form of genetic rickets called X-Linked Hypophosphatemia. This condition is characterised by the symptoms of rickets and by low phosphorus in the blood, associated with high phosphate levels passed in the urine. A person with rickets may have severely bowed legs, deformation of the spine, chest and pelvis, bones that break easily and severely stunted growth.

Rickets also occasionally develops in children with rare forms of kidney and liver disease. Rickets caused by a dietary lack of these minerals is rare in developed countries because calcium and phosphorous are present in milk and green vegetables. Your genes may increase your risk of rickets. Hereditary rickets is form of the disease that is passed down through families. It occurs when the kidneys are unable to retain the mineral phosphate. You may not get enough Vitamin D from your diet if you follow a vegetarian diet, do not drink milk products, or are lactose intolerant (have trouble digesting milk products). Infants who are exclusively breastfed may develop vitamin D deficiency. Rickets may also be caused by kidney disorders that involve renal tubular acidosis. In rickets, the condition is characterised by deformed bones due to poor bone mineralisation. Rickets may be seen in young children 6 to 24 months old and is uncommon in newborns. When rickets is caused by malnutrition or lack of sunlight, it can be treated with vitamin D supplements and sun exposure. Rickets caused by underlying diseases can be corrected by treating the primary disease. Children can inherit rickets from a parent. Rickets due to a genetic condition may require additional medications or specialized treatment. Some skeletal deformities caused by rickets may need corrective surgery.

Causes of Rickets

The common causes and risk factor's of Rickets include the following:

  • Lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate, which leads to softening and weakening of the bones.
  • Disorders of the liver.
  • Lactose intolerance with inadequate intake of vitamin D-fortified milk.
  • Family history of rickets.
  • A dietary lack of calcium and phosphorous (rather than a lack of vitamin D) may also play a part in the nutritional causes of rickets.
  • Lack of exposure to sunlight.
  • Certain medications e.g. anti-epileptic drugs.

Symptoms of Rickets

Some sign and symptoms related to Rickets are as follows:

  • Bone pain and tenderness.
  • Deformity or curvature of the spine.
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss.
  • Dental problems.
  • Poor growth and development.
  • Impaired growth.
  • Short stature.
  • Thickening of the ankles and wrists.

Treatment of Rickets

Here is list of the methods for treating Rickets :

  • Treating rickets caused by metabolic abnormalities may require a special prescription for vitamin D.
  • Positioning or bracing may be used to reduce or prevent deformities.
  • Wearing braces to reduce or prevent bony deformities.
  • A vitamin D injection each year may be required.
  • Plenty of sunlight, fresh air and muscular exercise are essential.
  • Some skeletal deformities may require corrective surgery.
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