Rickets is a condition affecting the bone development of children. It is defined by softening and weakening of the bones that can lead to deformities.
The condition can trigger bone pain, deformities and poor growth of the skeleton such as spinal curvature, bowed legs and thickening of the wrists, ankles and knees. Children with the condition are likely to end up with fractures.
What are the causes?
Lack of vitamin D or calcium is the usual cause of rickets. It is important to note that vitamin D mainly comes from exposure to sunlight, but it is also present in certain foods such as eggs and oily fish. Vitamin D is vital for the development of healthy and strong bones among children.
In rare instances, children are born with the hereditary variant of rickets. It might manifest if another ailment disrupts with the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body.
Management of rickets
In most children, rickets is treated successfully by ensuring that they are given foods packed with vitamin D and calcium or taking vitamin supplements.
If the child has issues with absorbing vitamins and minerals, a higher dose of supplement or yearly vitamin D injection is given.
It is important to note that rickets can be avoided by a diet that contains vitamin D and calcium, exposure to sunlight and vitamin D supplements if needed.
When to consult a doctor
A doctor should be seen if a child has any signs of rickets. The doctor will conduct a physical exam to assess for any evident issues. The medical and family history, diet and any drugs being used are also considered.
A blood test is carried out to measure the phosphorus, calcium and vitamin D levels to confirm a diagnosis of rickets, but an X-ray or even a bone density scan might be done.