Rickets is a condition where a child’s bones become soft and weak due to an extreme vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D helps bones absorb calcium and phosphorus from food. In some cases, rickets can be genetic or hereditary.
Children between the ages of 6 months to 24 months are at the greatest risk for rickets because their bones are growing at a fast rate during this time. Other factors for children diagnosed with rickets may include:
- Dark skin
- Limited exposure to sunlight
- Diet lacking in vitamin D, calcium or phosphorus
Symptoms of Rickets
Some of the symptoms of rickets may include:
- Stunted or delayed growth
- Larger than average forehead
- Abnormal curve in the spine or back
- Abnormalities in the breast and rib bones
- Wide joints at the elbow and wrist
- Abnormally shaped legs
- Wide ankles
Your child’s doctor will conduct a physical examination and may ask about your child’s family health history and diet. If your doctor feels your child may have rickets, he or she may order the following testing:
Blood tests: Blood tests can determine if your child has the appropriate amount of vitamin D.
X-rays: X-rays of your child’s arms or legs can reveal any bone abnormalities to determine if your child has rickets.
Treatments Offered for Rickets
Shriners Hospitals for Children has treatment plans for rickets, however treatment varies depending upon the severity of the condition. Generally treatment includes:
- Daily doses of calcium and vitamin D
- Yearly injections of vitamin D
- Increased foods with calcium