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Related to rickets: hypophosphatemic rickets




(rəkī`tĭs), bone disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin D or calcium. Essential in regulating calcium and phosphorus absorption by the body, vitamin D can be formed in the skin by ultraviolet rays contained in sunlight; it can also be consumed in such foods as fish oils, eggs, and butter. Since calcium and phosphorus are essential for proper development and hardening of bones, the disease manifests itself in children as softening of bones, abnormal bone growth, and enlargement of cartilage at the ends of long bones. Where bones must support weight, such as the legs and pelvis, the skeleton is likely to become bent or deformed. The result is often knock-knees, bowlegs, and deformities of the chest and pelvis. In temperate climates or the tropics, vitamin-D deficiency usually results from poor diet rather than from lack of exposure to ultraviolet rays of sunlight. Rickets is no longer common in developed countries because milk is readily obtained and is usually fortified with vitamin D; infants commonly receive vitamin D as a supplement. Treatment of rickets is largely preventive, i.e., by early recognition and by including adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium in the diet.



a disease occurring in infancy and early childhood, generally from the age of two months to one year, and caused by deficiency of vitamin D. Its course is marked by impaired metabolism, chiefly of minerals. The disease was first described in 1650 by F. Glisson.

In man. In man, rickets develops when the infant obtains insufficient vitamin D with food and when autosynthesis of this vitamin is impaired owing to insufficient ultraviolet radiation. The disease is more common in winter among artificially fed, premature, and sickly infants. When there is a deficiency of vitamin D, the amount of phosphorus and calcium in the blood decreases, the activity of alkaline phosphatase increases, the amount of citrates in the tissues, blood plasma, and urine decreases, and the amount of amino acids in the urine increases. Hypocalcemia leads to intensification of the function of the parathyroid glands. As a result of these changes, the exchange of calcium between the blood and the bone tissue is disrupted.

The first symptoms of rickets usually appear in infants at the age of about two months, and somewhat later in premature infants. The infant becomes restless and sleep is disrupted. There is sweating, especially of the head, and balding of the occiput. Somewhat later these symptoms are supplemented by a decrease in muscle tone and resultant enlargement of the abdomen (frog-belly). There is softening of the bones of the skull (craniotabes) and of the margins of the fontanel. The junctions of the bony and cartilaginous parts of the ribs thicken (rachitic rosary), the frontal and parietal eminences enlarge, and the head acquires a square shape with an olympian forehead. The ribs become soft and bend easily, and the thorax becomes deformed and laterally constricted (pigeon breast). Rachitic kyphosis develops, and somewhat later there is a deformation of the tubular bones. The epiphyses of the forearm bones and the phalanges of the fingers become thickened (rachitic bracelets and strings of pearls, respectively). The bones of the lower extremities become deformed, with the legs resembling the letter O or the letter X. The pelvic bones almost always become deformed. The time and order of dentition are disrupted. If the disease is not treated, rachitic changes may continue into the second and even the third year of life, and the skeletal deformations may remain for life. Rachitic children manifest poor physical and even mental development. They begin to sit and walk later than healthy children, and are ill more often and more severely, especially with pneumonia.

Rickets is prevented by prenatal care, sufficient fresh air and sunshine, and proper diet. The infant should be breast-fed and beginning at the age of one month should be given fruit, berry, and vegetable juices. Egg yolk should be given at the age of four months, and from the age of 4½ to five months the infant should be given such supplementary foods as vegetable purees and cereal. Massage and exercise are desirable beginning at the age of 1½ months. In winter the child should be exposed to irradiation from a mercury vapor lamp and given vitamin D, citrates, and fish oil. Premature infants are given vitamin D from the age of two weeks. Rickets is treated with vitamin D, citrates, and ultraviolet rays.


Sviatkina, K. A., A. M. Khvul’, and M. A. Rassolova. Rakhit. Moscow, 1974.
Tur, A. F. Rakhit. Leningrad, 1966.
Aktual’nye voprosy rakhita. Edited by K. A. Sviatkina. Kazan, 1971.
“Krankheiten des Calcium-und Phosphatstoffwechsels.” In Keller-Wiskott. Lehrbuch der Kinderheitkunde. Stuttgart, 1961.


In animals. Rickets may develop in the young of all species of animals, most commonly in pigs and calves. It is caused by insufficient vitamin D in the fodder and by insufficient amounts or incorrect proportions of calcium salts and phosphorus salts. Absence of sunlight and exercise and crowded, dark quarters promote the appearance of rickets. The disease’s earliest manifestations are dystrophy and softening of bone tissue. In the early stages, appetite is impaired. Later symptoms are deformation and curvature of the bones, thickening of the joints, and difficulty of movement. The disease is prevented and treated by proper feeding, ultraviolet irradiation, regular exercise, and proper living conditions. Vitamin D and mineral supplements are administered internally.


Vnutrennie nezaraznye bolezni zhivotnykh. Edited by A. M. Kolesov. Moscow, 1972.



A disorder of calcium and phosphorus metabolism affecting bony structures, due to vitamin D deficiency.


Pathol a disease mainly of children, characterized by softening of developing bone, and hence bow legs, malnutrition, and enlargement of the liver and spleen, caused by a deficiency of vitamin D
References in periodicals archive ?
Isotopic analysis by Dr Montgomery also showed that she was local to the area and that she didn't eat sea fish - something that would have provided the Vitamin D in her diet to prevent her contracting rickets.
And although Jacobs is quick to point out that 'most children with vitamin D deficiency don't have rickets (the adult equivalent is osteomalacia) it has become more common recently [and] can be difficult to diagnose as there are many other causes of children having bowed legs and, in fact, to some extent bowed legs can be normal so rickets can often be missed.
Depriving the body of the growth vitamin can have serious consequences, including rickets, dubbed "K Legs" by Victorians because it caused limbs to bow.
Health awareness campaign The Vitamin D Mission, which commissioned the survey, also accused parents of failing to provide kids with the food needed to ward off rickets.
Experts said the number of rickets cases has quadrupled in the last 15 years, while 94 children were treated in NHS hospitals for scurvy in 2008.
The bone analysis revealed that kid's ages ranged from newborn to about 5 years old and six of the nine skeletons displayed curved arms and bow legs, which are the classic signs of rickets, Discovery News reported.
4-6) In mammals, several heritable traits associated with rickets and osteomalacia have been identified and are commonly linked to a defect in either vitamin D metabolism or renal tubular function.
She said: "Reports in the UK suggest rickets, a bone disease associated with the 18th century, is on the increase, due to dietary and lifestyle factors.
He's not in pain and is as full of fun as any other young dog - Carol Hewett, right, on Max, above and left, the lurcher with rickets Main pictures by IAN COOPER
Other experts warn insufficient vitamin D in children can cause poor growth, cramps, impaired lung function and rickets, which affects bone development and can lead to bowed legs.
THE bone disease rickets is on the rise in Liverpool because children are not spending enough time in the sun, according to experts.
Sir: Your recent report about Kellogg's adding Vitamin D to its kids' cereal highlighted a genuine response to a public health need (Kellogg's cereals get vitamin D top-up to fight against rickets, 29 October, p26).