What are Rickets?

Rickets is a common condition in children caused by deficiency of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate. In the absence of these vitamins or minerals, the bones are weak and may cause stunted growth.

How To Care For Someone Suffering From Rickets & Its Symptoms?

If you feel that your kid may have rickets, it’s essential to consult the doctor. Correcting the deficiency with supplements and diet can help reverse symptoms of rickets.

Keep on reading to know more.

What Do Rickets Look Like? Signs in Children

A healthy ‌bone‌ ‌development needs calcium,‌ ‌vitamin‌ ‌D,‌ ‌and‌ ‌phosphate‌ , and deficiency‌ ‌of‌ ‌either‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌nutrients‌ ‌may‌ ‌result‌ ‌in‌ ‌rickets.‌ ‌People‌ ‌with‌ ‌rickets‌ ‌have‌ ‌stunted‌ ‌ growth,‌ ‌soft‌ ‌bones,‌ ‌and‌ ‌even‌ ‌skeletal‌ ‌deformities.‌ ‌ ‌

Your‌ ‌body‌ ‌needs‌ ‌vitamin‌ ‌D‌ ‌to‌ ‌absorb‌ ‌calcium‌ ‌and‌ ‌phosphate‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌food‌ ‌you‌ ‌eat.‌ ‌The‌ ‌

deficiency‌ ‌of‌ ‌vitamin‌ ‌D‌ ‌thus‌ ‌makes‌ ‌it‌ ‌difficult‌ ‌to‌ ‌get‌ ‌enough‌ ‌calcium‌ ‌and‌ ‌phosphate.‌ ‌When‌ ‌

this‌ ‌happens,‌ ‌your‌ ‌body‌ ‌starts‌ ‌using‌ ‌calcium‌ ‌and‌ ‌phosphate‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌bones,‌ ‌making‌ ‌them‌ ‌

weak‌ ‌and‌ ‌soft.‌ ‌ ‌

Rickets in Kids

Rickets‌ ‌is‌ ‌mainly‌ ‌seen‌ ‌in‌ ‌children‌ ‌between‌ ‌6‌ ‌and‌ ‌36‌ ‌months.‌ ‌This‌ ‌age‌ ‌group‌ ‌is‌ ‌highly‌ ‌prone‌ ‌to‌ ‌rickets‌ ‌as‌ ‌their‌ ‌bones‌ ‌are‌ ‌still‌ ‌growing‌ ‌and‌ ‌developing.‌

Rickets Causes and Symptoms

Risk factors for rickets include:

  • Age: As discussed before, rickets is mainly seen in children between 6 and 36 months
  • Diet: A vegetarian diet devoid of eggs, fish, or milk. You may also be at risk if you have trouble digesting milk or have lactose intolerance. Besides, breastfed infants are also at risk as breast milk doesn’t contain enough vitamin D.
  • Skin color: Children with darker skin are more prone as the skin doesn’t react adequately to sunlight, producing less vitamin D.
  • Genes: A form of rickets can be inherited, called hereditary rickets, which prevents phosphate absorption from the kidneys. 

Symptoms of rickets include:

  • Tenderness or pain in the bones of legs, spine, arms, or pelvis
  • Bone fractures
  • Teeth deformities such as holes in the enamel and defects in the tooth structure
  • Short stature and stunted growth
  • Muscle cramps
  • An oddly shaped skull
  • A protruding breastbone
  • Legs that bow out (bow legs)
  • Bumps in the ribcage
  • Pelvic deformities
  • A curved spine
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If your child has any of the signs, it is best to consult a doctor as the child may end up with a short stature as an adult if rickets goes untreated. 

How Can You Help Treating Rickets

The best time for building strong bones is when they are still developing, in kids and teens. Children with strong bones are less likely to have rickets later in life. And for the same reason, children must have adequate calcium and vitamin D.

Here’s how you can help them:

  • Encourage a diet rich in calcium such as dairy products, greens, beans, nuts, and seeds. You can also give them calcium-fortified foods like orange juice and peanut butter.
  • Ensure they get enough vitamin D. Your child may not be fond of vitamin D-rich foods such as fatty fish. In such cases, you can consult your doctor for supplements.
  • Carefully expose them to the sun. The body makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Exposing the face and hands a few times during the summer and spring months can help. However, it is essential to keep the exposure brief.
  • Motivate your kids to exercise. Activities and exercises promote stronger bones. Some examples of helpful activities include running, climbing, walking, and jumping. 
  • Get immediate medical care if the kid has a seizure or breaks their bone. 

Rickets Diagnosis, Treatment, and Medication

Rickets Diagnosis

The doctor may be able to diagnose rickets by running a physical check on your child. They will check for pain or tenderness of the bones by pressing them. They may also order the mentioned investigations to confirm the diagnosis: 

  • Bone X-rays to find bone deformities
  • Blood test to measure phosphate, vitamin D, and calcium
  • Bone biopsy (in rare cases)

Rickets Treatment And Medication

Treatment of rickets involves taking the missing mineral or vitamin. If your child has low calcium levels, the doctor may give them calcium and vitamin D supplements. This will help to manage symptoms of rickets. The correct dose depends on the age and size of the child. Taking a higher or lower dose may negatively affect the child. Thus, always take the recommended dose. 

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Rickets treatment with Calcium

The usual dose of calcium is 1000 mg or 2000 mg for a few weeks. Some children may need treatment for more than 24 weeks to completely heal.

Tips to take calcium supplements:

  • It is available as a tablet to be taken orally, once or more, with or without food or as prescribed by your physician.
  • Take this tablet daily at the same time.
  • Follow all the instructions on the prescription label. 
  • Do not stop taking this medication abruptly without consulting your doctor.
  • Do not take it more or less, or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor. 
  • Do not stop using it even if you feel well.

Experts also suggest moderate sun exposure to prevent rickets. You can expose your hands and face to sunlight a few times a week during the summer and spring months.

Rickets treatment with vitamin D

Too much sun exposure may damage the skin, and sunscreen may be used to prevent skin burns and damage. As sunscreen alters vitamin D absorption, taking foods with vitamin D or vitamin supplements is beneficial. 

The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is:

  • 0–12 months: 400 IU (10 mcg)
  • 1–70 years: 600 IU (15 mcg)
  • Above 70: 800 IU (20 mcg)

Another option involves using fortified orange juice, milk, and other products rich in vitamin D.

Other Precautions For Them And You

Rickets and sun exposure

Sun exposure is an excellent prevention tool. However, excess sunlight exposure may increase the risk of sunburns and skin cancer. 

Rickets and vitamins

It is also essential to consult your doctor before giving your child vitamin supplements. A higher or lower dose of the supplements may negatively affect the child. 

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