Rickets By: Paige and Brittany

What is Rickets?

  • Rickets is a disease found in children that softens and weakens their bones.
  • Rickets is a Greek derived word from "rachitis"
    • Rachitis literally means 'inflammation of the spine'
  • This disease mostly occurs in children suffering with malnutrition, famine, and starvation
  • Osteomalacia is the term used to describe a similar condition of rickets in adults.
    • Osteomalacia is also due to lack of vitamin D in the body.

How do you get Rickets?
Vitamin D in the body
Vitamin D in the body

  • You get Rickets whenever you have a vitamin D deficiency in your body.
  • The vitamin D absorbs calcium and phosphorus, which is key in building strong bones.
    • A deficiency of vitamin D makes things difficult to keep up your calcium and phosphorus levels in bones.
  • Vitamin D is produced by the skin from the sun's rays and from a healthy diet. When a person stays indoors for an extensive period of time they increase their risk of being diagnosed with Rickets. Because they aren't getting the Vitamin D from sun exposure, their bones do not receive proper nutrients, which also include calcium and phosphorus. This causes deformation.
  • Rickets can occur in children when they have liver disorders and are unable to convert vitamin D to its active form.
  • You can also get Rickets during periods of rapid growth whenever your body is in a high demand of calcium and phosphate.
  • Rickets can also be an inherited disease

What happens in your body?

  • Your body senses an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus in your bloodstream. It reacts by taking the calcium and phosphorus out of your bones which raises the blood levels to where they need to be. By doing so, it softens/weakens your bone structure which then results in skeletal deformities. Also, the nutrients that are being denied to your body from lack of Vitamin D result in bone shifting. When the bones in the body shift and soften they bend and deform.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D

Risk factors:

  • High Risk
    • Breast-fed infants whose mothers aren't exposed to sunlight
    • Breast-fed infants who do not go in sun
    • Individuals that do not consume fortified milk, such as those who are lactose intolerant
    • Children with dark skin
    • Children that wear sunscreen while outside in the sun
  • Low Risk
    • People with red hair have a decreased risk of obtaining rickets because they have a greater production of vitamin D in sunlight

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Bone pain and tenderness
  • Major dental problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tendency for fractures
  • Skeletal deformity
    • In toddlers bowed legs is a common sign
    • Children often have knocked knees
    • Cranial, spinal, and pelvic deformities are also symptoms
  • Hypocalcemia, which is a low level of calcium in blood
  • Pigeon Chest, which is a forward push of the breastbone
  • Impaired growth
  • Stunted growth, usually less than 5 feet tall

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You can be diagnosed by:

  • -Blood tests
    • -These show low levels of calcium, which could possibly result in rickets
  • -X-Rays
    • -Show any change or deformity in bone shape, depicting a lack of calcium
  • -Bone biopsy
    • -Will strictly confirm rickets