Rickets

What causes rickets?

Rickets is caused by a lack of vitamin D. A child might not get enough vitamin D if he or she:

  • Has dark skin
  • Spends too little time outside
  • Has on sunscreen all the time when out of doors
  • Doesn't eat foods containing vitamin D because of lactose intolerance or a strict vegetarian diet
  • Is breastfed without receiving vitamin D supplements
  • Can't make or use vitamin D because of a medical disorder such as celiac disease
  • Has an inherited disorder that affects vitamin D levels

Last updated on 05-01-20

How is rickets diagnosed?

Rickets is typically diagnosed using specific blood tests and x-rays. Blood tests usually show low levels of calcium and phosphorus and high levels of alkaline phosphatase. Bone x-rays may show areas with calcium loss or changes in bone shape. Bone biopsies are rarely performed, but can confirm the diagnosis of rickets.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is rickets?

Rickets is a condition that causes children to have soft, weak bones. It usually occurs when children do not get enough vitamin D, which helps growing bones absorb important nutrients. Vitamin D comes from sunlight and food. Skin produces vitamin D in response to the sun's rays. Some foods also contain vitamin D, including fortified dairy products and cereals, and some kinds of fish.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What treatment is available for rickets?

The treatment for rickets depends on the cause of the condition. If rickets is caused by a lack of vitamin D in the diet, then it is usually treated with carefully adjusted levels of vitamin D and calcium. The child's condition may improve within a few weeks of treatment. If rickets is caused by an inherited disorder or another medical condition, a healthcare provider would determine the appropriate treatment.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Where To Start

Office of Dietary Supplements

The Office of Dietary Supplements provides more information on vitamin D. You can view this information by clicking on the Office of Dietary Supplements link.

Last updated on 04-27-20


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The RareGuru disease database is regularly updated using data generously provided by GARD, the United States Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center.

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