Rickets is disease resulting from a vitamin D shortage in children. It causes bones to soften and weaken.
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Rickets results when there is a vitamin D or calcium shortage in a child's body. This may occur when:
- The supply of vitamin D from diet or sun exposure is too low.
- The way the body processes vitamin D is not typical.
- Tissue does not respond to the action of vitamin D.
Vitamin D controls how calcium is absorbed in the body. It also controls levels of calcium and phosphate in bone. Vitamin D is absorbed in the intestines from food. Vitamin D is also produced by the skin during exposure to sunlight.
Most often, rickets is caused by a shortage of vitamin D. This can result from:
Not enough vitamin D in the diet. In children, this may be related to:
- Not drinking enough vitamin D-fortified milk
- Not giving enough vitamin D supplements to children being breastfed or to children who are lactose intolerant
- Lack of exposure to sunlight
Less often, rickets can be caused by other disorders that affect vitamin D absorption, processing, or action in the body such as:
- Kidney problems:
- Diseases of the small intestines with malabsorption
- Disorders of the liver or pancreas disease
Certain drugs, such as:
- Certain seizure medications, such as phenytoin or phenobarbital
- Ammonium chloride
- Disodium etidronate
- Fluoride treatment
Toxicity or poisoning from:
- Outdated tetracycline
Last reviewedFebruary 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.