Rickets is a common disorder found in children where bones are deformed and weak. The condition is commoner in developing countries than in developed countries. It is usually found in childhood but may develop among adults, then it is known as Osteomalacia. The primary reason for the condition is a deficiency of Vitamin D, which might result from a lack of exposure to Sun. It is advised to consult a pediatric orthopedic doctor to get proper treatment.
Commonest cause of rickets is deficiency of vitamin D in the body. Lack of exposure to sunlight and dietary deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to development of this condition. As vitamin D is extremely essential for absorption of calcium by the body, lack of it directly affects the bone strength.
Genetic defect is another important cause of rickets, a rare genetic condition called as hypophosphatemic rickets. This genetic defect hampers the processing of phosphates in the body properly. Lack of phosphorus in the blood further affects the bones.
Some other disease conditions related to intestine, liver and kidney can also affect the absorption and metabolism of certain vitamins and minerals leading to development of rickets.
Physical examination often gives an indication of the disease; however, some confirmatory tests may be needed. Diagnosis of nutritional Rickets usually is done by tests which are conducted for measuring the levels of calcium, phosphorus, alkaline phosphatse, 1,25OH-VitD, 25OH-VitD in the blood. X-ray helps in visualizing the alteration in the shape of the bones ,widening and fraying of physis of wrist,distal femur ,proximal tibia.
Other rare types of rickets needs specialised investigations to exclude kidney problems,genetic defects etc.
Complications usually develop if the condition is left untreated.
Treatment primarily depends on increasing the levels of calcium, phosphates and Vitamin D in the body. Exposure to sunlight, intake of cholecalciferol, certain fish oils which are rich in vitamin D often help in preventing or treating rickets.
For children developing rickets as a result of malnutrition, vitamin D supplements may be needed annually in addition to vitamin D and calcium rich food. For patients developing rickets as a genetic disease, medications increasing phosphorus in the body and activating vitamin D may be helpful. For rickets generating from other systemic diseases it is important to find out the cause and treat the particular condition of that organ.
Prevention involves absorption of vitamin D by daily exposure to sunlight, and addition of calcium and vitamin D to diet.
Estimating the exact amount vitamin D needs of each human is difficult because it is hard to measure how much of the vitamin is synthesized in the skin via sunlight.
In countries that are not near the tropics and sunlight intensity is lower, it is important to provide a supplementary intake of vitamin D to prevent rickets.
In areas with a lot of sunlight, the best way to prevent rickets is to expose the child to the sun.