Rickets

Rickets is a softening of bones in children due to deficiency or impaired metabolism of vitamin D, phosphorus or calcium, leading to fractures and deformity. Rickets is among the most frequent childhood diseases in many developing countries

The primary cause of rickets is a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is required for proper calcium absorption from the gut. Sunlight, especially ultraviolet light, lets human skin cells convert Vitamin D from an inactive to active state. In the absence of vitamin D, dietary calcium is not properly absorbed, resulting in hypocalcaemia, leading to skeletal and dental deformities and neuromuscular symptoms.

Children ages 6 months to 24 months are at highest risk, because their bones are rapidly growing.Mother’s milk gives adequate calcium and vitamin-D so nutritional rickets develops once breast feeding is stopped. Renal or vitamin-D resistant rickets develops in children of 5-8 years of age.

Prevention And Counselling

A sufficient amount of ultraviolet B light in sunlight each day and adequate supplies of calcium and phosphorus in the diet can prevent rickets. Recommendations are for 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day for infants and children.

Children affected with this disorder progressively develop lower limb deformities once they begin to walk and bear weight. The deformities progressively worsen in an otherwise well- nourished and healthy child. The rate of linear growth is at first normal and then slowed, ultimately resulting in short stature.

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