What is rickets? How does the disease appear and how can we fight it? How do we prevent rickets?
What Is Rickets in Kids?
Rickets is a childhood disease that occurs due to the lack of vitamin D and poor nutrition. Rickets makes bones of the hands, feet, and spine softened and even deformed. Children rickets is a social disease, because it is associated with unfavorable life conditions. Despite the improvement in the current level of child care, the disease remains a serious danger to children aged 6-18 months.
What Causes Rickets?
Calcium and phosphorus exchanges are disturbed, and it disrupts bone formation and growth, leads to the nervous system and internal organs’ malfunctioning.
How to Provide the Kid with Sufficient Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is so necessary a component that nature has come up with the easiest way of its production – it is produced in the skin when exposed to sunlight. A half-hour stay in the fresh air with an open face and hands provides the kid with a daily amount of vitamin D.
Other Factors Causing Rickets
The genetic defect – hypophosphatemic rickets – is a rare genetic disorder, which reduces phosphate absorption by the kidney. Phosphate levels in the blood are very low, which results in bone softening.
Kidney, liver and gastrointestinal tract diseases may cause problems with vitamin absorption, which leads to rickets.
Rickets Symptoms & Signs
There are many circumstances when there is lack of vitamin D in the body. It happens when:
- the baby is born during the cold season
- it spends little time in the sun
- it rains a lot during the year
- the baby is fed by maladapted mixtures and cow milk
- the baby was born prematurely, from a young or aged mother
- in case of abnormal pregnancy or childbirth complications.
The rickets symptoms are:
- bone pain
- soft bones
- brittle bones
- costochondral knobs (bony growths on the arms and legs)
- Harrison’s groove (chest deformity in the form of a cross recess located under the diaphragm)
- low levels of calcium in the blood (hypocalcemia)
- shin deviation (knee bulge)
- craniotabes (skull softening)
- head flattening – the neck can become flat
- spine, pelvis and skull deformation
- varus deformity of the knee – the child’s legs are bent and take the form of the letter X
- tetany – convulsions, which may involve the entire body
- wrist extension
- flattening of the tummy due to improper development of the abdominal muscles
- the baby does not sleep or shudders while sleeping, startled by the slightest sounds; it sweats heavily, its sweat has a strong distinct sour smell.
If you do not treat rickets, your baby’s bones get more susceptible to fractures and injuries. In severe cases of rickets, bones may become deformed.
Rickets should be treated under medical supervision. Key measures:
- The child is given calcium, phosphate and vitamin D.
- Ultraviolet radiation is appointed, but during this procedure vitamin D is temporarily canceled.
- During the treatments special therapeutic massage is made.
- Doctors appoint a diet of vitamin D-rich foods: eggs, fish oil, and juices. It is especially needed to monitor the child’s diet when rickets is a consequence of malnutrition.
- In genetic rickets doctors prescribe phosphorus-containing drugs and hormones, which include vitamin D.
Tips on How to Avoid Rickets in Children
The disease was known long in ancient times. By the 15-16 centuries rickets has become a fairly common condition among young children living in large European cities.
It is important to eat right during pregnancy, and spend much time outdoors. When a child is born, vitamin D should be prescribed by a pediatrician. If a kid gains weight intensively – a kilogram a month or more –the baby’s nutrition should be supplemented with calcium, no less than 500 mg per day. It is necessary to walk with your baby for at least 2-3 hours a day in any weather.