On Children’s health today, let’s learn about Rickets.
You’ve probably seen a child with not-so-straight limbs, either as bowed limbs or K-shaped limbs. It could be due to this condition.
What is Rickets?
It is the condition seen in children when there is a softening and weakening of their bones.
What causes Rickets?
Rickets occur if when the child’s body doesn’t get enough vitamin D or if the body has problems using vitamin D as properly, with the body needing vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus from ingested food. The deficiency of vitamin D could result from two sources:
Sunlight. The child’s skin produces vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. Hence, if a child spends less time outdoors, it could lead to a decreased production of vitamin D.
Food. Fish and eggs are good sources of vitamin D. if this is absent in a child’s diet, it could result to deficiency.
The following conditions cause problems in the absorption or uptake of vitamin D in children; Celiac disease, Inflammatory bowel disease, Cystic fibrosis, Kidney problems.
What are the things to look for to know if a child has rickets?
A child may experience delayed development especially in the area of motor skills. This basically means anything that requires moving the muscles e.g crawling, grasping, standing e.t.c.
A child old enough to complain of pain might complain of pain in the spine, pelvis or legs. It could also be the case of bow legs or knock knees.
So, what increases the risk for Rickets?
A mother who was deficient of vitamin D in pregnancy may give birth to a child with rickets. Children living in places with less sunshine are also at a higher risk.
Premature babies are likewise predisposed to vitamin D deficiency. Some medications such as anti-seizure medications and antiretroviral drugs may interfere with body’s ability to use vitamin D.
See also: Painful swallowing in Children- The case of tonsillitis.
What is the treatment for Rickets?
A visit to a doctor is important if any of the symptoms described above are noticed. The doctor would ask some questions and examine important parts of the body like the wrist, ankles, skull and the chest.
They’ll also order both blood test to determine the level of vitamin D, calcium, phosphate. Also, an X-ray picture also helps to determine extent of affectation and also to monitor treatment after it has commenced.
The treatment is basically via vitamin D and calcium supplements. If surgery is needed to correct the deformed limbs, it is the call of the doctor based on their findings.
What happens if treatment is not initiated in a child with Rickets?
Complications could range anywhere from delayed growth to seizures. The spine could grow into an abnormal curve, there’s a high risk of bone deformities and dental defects too.
Rickets can be easily prevented. It’s basically ensuring that a child is exposed early to sunlight and other sources of vitamin D especially in the diet.