Orthopedic Diseases
Rickets

​​What is rickets?

Rickets is a skeletal disorder that is caused by prolonged vitamin D deficiency that leads to the softening and weakening of bones as well as a deficiency of calcium and phosphate, which stimulates excess secretion of parathyroid hormones.
 
Causes:
  • Rickets is caused by insufficient exposure to sunlight, and low intake of foods containing vitamin D; 
  • Problems with vitamin D absorption due to certain medical conditions (e.g. bowel resection, chronic pancreatitis , cystic fibrosis);
  • Liver problems such as cirrhosis;
  • Kidney diseases;
  • Medications (e.g. phenytoin);
  • Genetics.

Symptoms:
In children:
  • Delayed fontanel closure and softening of the skull bones (fontanelles)
  • Pain and swelling in the joints
  • Rachitic rosary
  • Skeletal deformities in the legs and knees
  • Delayed or unsteady walking
  • Impaired growth, short stature, and lack of weight gain
  • Dental deformities
  • Bone fractures in certain cases

Risk factors:
  • Dark skin
  • Children and older adults
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Exclusive breast-feeding after the age of 6 months
  • Poverty
  • Vegetarianism
  • Alcohol
  • Living at high altitudes
  • Family history

Diagnosis:
  • Medical advice given by the family doctor
  • Medical history
  • Clinical examination
  • Vitamin D test

Complications:
  • Chronic skeletal pain
  • Skeletal deformities
  • Skeletal fractures

Treatment:
Boosting vitamin D levels in the body.
 
Prevention:
  • Proper nutrition and sufficient sun exposure.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment.

FAQs:
Is rickets a common disease?
Yes, it is a common disease.
 
What is to be expected after starting the treatment?
A positive outcome is expected if the patient responds to the treatment.
 
Should the mother refrain from breastfeeding?
No, mothers should continue to breastfeed.
 
Health Promotion and Clinical Education General Department
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