For years, doctors thought of rickets as a disease of the past. New research shows it should still be considered a problem and prevention should start before birth and researchers suggest pregnant women should be given vitamin D supplementation.
Rickets is a childhood disorder involving softening and weakening of the bones, primarily caused by lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate. It is most likely to occur during rapid growth, when the body demands high levels of calcium and phosphate. Rickets may be seen in young children 6 to 24 months old.
Doctors say rickets is increasing for two main reasons. They say more babies are being breastfed longer, with no vitamin D supplementation and children and mothers get less sun exposure because of concerns about skin cancer. Doctors also indicate immigrant groups have a higher prevalence of rickets.
Researchers suggest pregnant women (living outside the tropics) in the second and third trimesters should receive a supplement of 400 IU to1000 IU daily and Exclusively breastfed children of Asian and black mothers living outside the tropics should receive 280 to 400 IU. They recommend vitamin D supplements be given to children until the growth spurt that accompanies puberty is finished. Moderate sun exposure will also help.