Vitamin D and Rickets in Children
What is the connection between low levels of vitamin D and rickets in children? We can define rickets as bone softening to the extent that the bones become deformed. This condition is caused by magnesium deficiency, calcium deficiency, phosphorus deficiency and vitamin D deficiency. Rickets can lead to serious deformities and bone fractures. It is believed that this condition affects mostly children in poor countries; however, some studies have shown that rickets in infants are not necessarily related to poverty and malnutrition. Infants who do not consume formula milk (they are exclusively breastfed) are at great risk of developing rickets. Breastfeeding is very healthy for both mother and the baby; however, human milk does not have enough vitamin D, so babies need to consume formula, in addition to the mother’s milk.
Although we can name several factors that can lead to rickets, vitamin D deficiency seems to be the primary cause. This condition can occur in adults, but it is more common in children.
The Symptoms of Rickets
● Weak bones
● Deformities of spine
● Deformities of pelvis
● Weak muscles
● Low calcium levels
● Pain in bones
● Harrison’s groove
● Skeletal deformities
● Dental problems
● Growth problems
● Soft skull
As we said, rickets is usually caused by vitamin D deficiency. In most cases, low levels of vitamin D are caused by limited sun exposure and malnutrition. Babies who only eat breast milk are at greater risk of becoming deficient in vitamin D, simply because mother’s milk does not contain proper amounts of this vitamin. Doctors always encourage women to breastfeed their babies, but they also point put that formula milk has to be included in the baby’s diet.
Vitamin D is necessary for normal absorption of calcium. During the sun exposure, vitamin D will be converted into its active state. Sunlight is considered the best natural source of this vitamin. If there is not enough vitamin D, calcium will not be absorbed and this will lead to hypocalcaemia, which will further cause dental and skeletal deformities (in both children and adults). In adults, we call this “osteomalacia”.
Your doctor will tell you what to do to prevent this condition from affecting your baby. You have to keep your own vitamin D levels normal, and you certainly have to know how to provide your baby with vitamin D rich foods. Formula milk is a good solution for infants.