Doctor Umm Saarib Attariyyah
Rickets is a condition that affects bone development in children. It causes bone pain, poor growth, and soft, weak bones that can lead to bone deformities. Adults can experience a similar condition called osteomalacia. This disorder is not generally present from birth and is most common in children between 6 months and 3 years of age. A lack of vitamin D or calcium is the most common cause of rickets. Vitamin D largely comes from exposing the skin to sunlight, but it's also found in some foods, such as oily fish and eggs. Vitamin D is essential for the formation of strong and healthy bones in children. Any child who doesn't get enough vitamin D or calcium either through their diet or from sunlight can develop rickets. Children must have a balanced diet that provides appropriate amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Our bones act like a bank because the calcium that enters our body gathers in the bones. If calcium intake is low, the ‘bone bank’ will become empty.
Some possible causes:
1. Deficiency of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphate.
2. Liver and intestinal issues.
3. Premature birth.
4. Living in areas where there is little sunlight or not going out during the day.
Some symptoms of this condition:
1. Pain – in the spine, feet, arms, or other bones.
2. Skeletal deformities – such as curved feet and arms or feeling pain in them.
3. Tightness and pain in the muscles.
4. Dental problems – including damaged teeth and weak tooth enamel.
Types of Rickets
There are two types:
1. Rickets caused by a lack of vitamin D or calcium in the body.
2. Rickets caused by a pre-existing medical condition.
Rickets is diagnosed through blood and urine tests. You can consult your physician about getting both tests for your child.
Who’s at Risk?
Those most at risk of developing rickets or osteomalacia are:
1. Pregnant and breastfeeding women.
2. Children who have difficulty absorbing vitamin D and calcium.
3. Those who cover their entire body.
4. Those who do not go out in the sun.
5. Those who do not consume oily fish.
Impact of Vitamin D deficiency
Just as the presence of vitamin D is beneficial for the body, its absence or deficiency is harmful. Due to this, it becomes difficult for the body to maintain sufficient amounts of calcium and phosphate. When this happens, it leads to a lack of minerals in the bones, which causes them to become weak and fragile.
Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
Several factors can contribute to vitamin D deficiency, including:
1. Feeding children with milk instead of a varied, balanced diet.
2. Having thick skin.
3. Windows can also cause vitamin D deficiency; this is because type B ultraviolet rays, which aid in the maintenance of vitamin D, cannot pass through glass, leading to a deficiency.
Sources of Vitamin D
To protect yourself, consume foods that are rich in calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D. For example:
* Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yoghurt.
* Green vegetables like broccoli and kale.
* Oily fish, such as sardines and salmon, and cod liver oil supplements.
* Cereals fortified with vitamin D.
Sitting in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes daily is also beneficial, as a person can gain a good amount of vitamin D this way. According to one study, exposing your hands and face to the sun a few times a week in the winter and summer is beneficial. Your physician may prescribe an annual injection of high-dose vitamin D if you suffer from a liver or intestinal disorder in addition to vitamin D deficiency.
Calcium and vitamin D Supplements
Foods such as milk are good natural sources of calcium. However, you should consult your physician before taking any supplements.