About This Condition
Rickets is an abnormal bone formation in children resulting from inadequate calcium in their bones.
This lack of calcium can result from inadequate dietary calcium,1 inadequate exposure to sunshine (needed to make vitamin D), or from not eating enough vitamin D—a nutrient needed for calcium absorption. Vitamin D is found in animal foods, such as egg yolks and dairy products.
Rickets can also be caused by conditions that impair absorption of vitamin D and/or calcium, even when these nutrients are consumed in appropriate amounts. Activation of vitamin D in the body requires normal liver and kidney function. Damage to either organ can cause rickets. Some variations of rickets do not respond well to supplementation with vitamin D and calcium. Proper diagnosis must be made by a healthcare professional.
Osteomalacia is an adult version of rickets. This condition is treated with vitamin D, sometimes in combination with calcium supplements. Osteomalacia should be diagnosed, and its treatment monitored, by a doctor.
In children, symptoms of rickets include delayed sitting, crawling, and walking; pain when walking; and the development of bowlegs or knock-knees. Symptoms of osteomalacia include bowing of the legs and a decrease in height.
Treatment of rickets and osteomalacia sometimes include intravenous calcium. Some health care providers may recommend the use of artificial ultraviolet B radiation or increased exposure to sunlight.