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Last Updated: Oct 27, 2021
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Rickets - Causes Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

About Types Vitamin deficiency Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment Risk factors Heal Cure Diet Cost Prevention

What is Rickets?

Rickets is a condition when the bones become soft and brittle. The most common causes of this disease are lack of Vitamin D and less intake of calcium by children. In other words, malnutrition plays a major role in the damage of the bones.

Genetic conditions can also be another reason for this disease. Children are mainly affected but sometimes adults are also get affected and the condition is called osteomalacia. Along with weak bones, there is also stunted growth and skeletal deformities in the person.

How many types of Rickets are there?

There are mainly two types of cricket which are categorized under calcipenic and phosphonic. Calcipenic Rickets is basically caused due to deficiency of vitamin D or resistance developed against its absorption. This condition may arise due to various factors such as intake of a diet deficient in vitamin D, malabsorption, or less exposure to sunlight. On the other hand, phosphonic Rickets is caused as a result of loss of phosphate through the renal tubule. The condition arises due to a deficiency of dietary phosphate or malabsorption of phosphate.

What's the difference between Rickets and scurvy?

Differences between scurvy and Rickets are very obvious. Scurvy is a disease of gums that is characterized by bleeding of the gums accompanied by swelling. The condition arises as a result of deficiency of vitamin c, which also results in joint pain. However, Rickets is an abnormal condition of bone that is characterized by several bone deformities with the softening of the bones. It is caused by calcium and vitamin D deficiency.

Which vitamin deficiency causes rickets?

The deficiency of Vitamin D causes rickets because of this, absorption of calcium from the intestine stops which leads to the deficiency of calcium in the body. Vitamin D is necessary for absorption of calcium and phosphates from the intestine. It is mainly produced in the body when a person is exposed to sunlight. Other sources of Vitamin D are fish, eggs, and milk. Insufficiency of Vitamin D causes low levels of calcium and phosphate in the body. This results in soft and disfigured bones.

Can Rickets be treated with vitamin D?

Vitamin D deficiency in children causes rickets. Thereby the treatment methods include administration of vitamin D doses in the body of the affected child so as to fulfill the need for the bones to be cured. In addition, intake of sufficient calcium in the diet is also necessary. In cases calcium deficiency leads to vitamin D deficiency, calcium should be consumed as supplements for a time period of 6 months at least. It promotes bone healing. In severe cases of vitamin D deficiency, intravenous administration of calcium gluconate along with vitamin D supplement needs to be taken.

What are the signs and symptoms of rickets?

These are the following symptoms of rickets:

Bone tenderness or bone pain, low level of calcium in the body and blood, Skull softness, knock knees, easy breaking of bones, widening up of wrists, bowed legs of small children, delay in the motor skills, weak muscles, pain in the pelvis, legs and spine, and problems with absorption in the body.

What does Rickets look like?

Rickets is characterized by deformities in the bone which become soft and fragile. The deformities can be seen in the wrist, ankles, and knees which get thickened, legs resembling the shape of a bow, enlargement of the forehead, softened state of skull bones, and the spine may be in the bent form. Affected child walk which involves a waddling style walk is also noticed in the child as a symptom of Rickets.

What are the causes of rickets?

These are the several causes of rickets:

  • Lack of Vitamin D in the body: Our body needs Vitamin D so that the calcium from the intestines can be absorbed and if the persons lack Vitamin D, there is always a lack of calcium in the body. Calcium is not properly absorbed from the food items, causing a low level of calcium in the blood. Low calcium levels in the body result in the deformities of bones and teeth. Therefore Vitamin D must be added in diet and food like eggs, fish oils, oily fish like salmon and mackerel, soy milk products, margarine.
  • Genetic defects: Rickets can also be caused by a genetic disorder like Hypophosphatemic rickets, which does not allow the kidney to process proper phosphates. The low level of phosphate is another cause of fragile bones.

Where is Rickets most common?

Rickets occurs commonly in some parts of the world including the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. The most common reason is the deficiency of vitamin D. The Middle East witnesses the highest rates for the occurrence of Rickets. The reason, however, is the less exposure to the Sun along with insufficient alternatives for vitamin D. It is followed by countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Is Rickets permanent?

Rickets is usually not a permanent condition. If it is treated at an early age with early diagnosis, the chances of it improving increase significantly. It gets corrected and disappears with proper and on-time treatment. However, in case of delayed treatment, the deformities may persist longer and even may become permanent. Hence the most appropriate stage of treatment is the child's growing period.

How is rickets diagnosed?

While diagnosing rickets doctors gently press the bones of the child to check if there is any abnormality. Tests like x-ray, blood tests and arterial blood gases test are used to determine the levels of calcium, phosphate and check for any skeletal abnormalities in the body. Every part of the child’s body will be paid attention to such as:

  • Skull: Skulls of the babies will be pressed as the babies with rickets have softer skull bones
  • Legs: Some of the healthy toddlers have the problems of bowlegs and if the problems exaggerate then it is the problem of rickets.
  • Chest: Sometimes children who have rickets develop abnormalities in their rib cage. In this case, the rib cage flattens and causes the protrusion of breastbone.
  • Ankles and wrists: Children who suffer from rickets have larger or thicker wrists and ankles than the normal.

How is rickets treated?

The most common medication for rickets is the intake of Vitamin D or taking calcium supplements. But both things need to be taken after the prescription of a doctor as too much intake of Vitamin D is dangerous. The condition of the child is first examined by x-ray and blood test. If the child has a low amount of phosphorus in the body or any rare inherited disorder, the medication is prescribed by the doctor according to the situation.

Who is at risk for developing rickets?

Normally, children are at a high risk of developing rickets since they are at a growing age. It is also because children do not get the proper amount of sunlight and do not follow a diet that is full of nutrition. Many risk factors have been identified for developing rickets. Rickets is common in children between the ages of 6 and 36 months.

It is very common in regions where there is less sunlight and children eat vegetarian food and do not eat milk products. Infants who are fed only on breast milk also have a risk of developing rickets because breast milk has low quantities of Vitamin D. People with dark skin are at higher risk because their skin prevents penetration of sunlight thereby avoiding the body from producing Vitamin D.

What happens if Rickets is left untreated?

Rickets is a condition of weakening of bones in children, usually caused due to deficiency of vitamin D. The treatment for Rickets is possible however if the condition is left untreated, it may lead to serious complications which include:

  • Growth retardation or growth failure.
  • Deformities of bones.
  • Dental related problems.
  • Occurrence of seizures.
  • A spine that has become curved abnormally.

How long does rickets take to heal?

Recovering from rickets can take several months depending upon the severity of the disease. If bones of a person have deformities due to rickets, it can be healed within a certain time period and bowed legs also get back in shape without any surgery.

Can rickets be cured?

Rickets can be cured by doing necessary changes in the diet like taking Vitamin D whose deficiency is the main cause of rickets. But medicines should not be left in the middle of the treatment because it prevents the reoccurring of the conditions causing rickets.

What food is good for Rickets?

The cause for the occurrence of Rickets includes deficiency of vitamin D along with a less intake of dairy products and prolonged breastfeeding without giving the baby solid food items even if they become four to six months old. Some of the food items and food habits that should be preferred for the prevention of Rickets as well as its control and management include the following:

  • Incorporation of vitamin D-rich food items in the regular diet of children. Such food items include fresh fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel and sardines, liver, mushrooms, and egg yolks.
  • Increased intake of dairy products.
  • Consumption of cereals breakfast and margarine.
  • Intake of at least one glass of milk or yogurt or cheese to ensure sufficient intake of calcium and phosphorus.

What is the cost of rickets treatment in India?

The treatment of rickets in India starts from 2500 INR. This also depends upon the severity of the disease, thus the price keeps on increasing, according to the situation.

How to prevent rickets?

There are several ways in which you can prevent rickets:

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet with good Vitamin D sources
  • Spending time in the sun so that there is the proper intake of natural Vitamin D
  • Supplements of Vitamin D also work
  • In winter months when sunlight is less, face and hands should be exposed to sunlight.
  • Adequate intake of foods rich in Vitamin D, calcium and phosphate are necessary.
Summary: Rickets is a condition of weakening of bones in children, usually caused due to deficiency of vitamin D. The condition is characterized by deformities in the bone which become soft and fragile resulting in bow-shaped bones. Food items and habits that should be preferred for the prevention of Rickets include incorporation of vitamin D-rich food items in the regular diet of children, increased intake of dairy products, consumption of cereals breakfast, and margarine, and intake of at least one glass of milk or yogurt or cheese.

Popular Questions & Answers

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Dear lybrate-user, going through your very complex list of symptoms, it appears to me that you may only have obesity and may be situational depression along with vitamin d and calcium deficiency. I suggest that you go ona strict paleo diet complet...

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