Rickets is disease resulting from a vitamin D , calcium, or phosphate shortage in children. It causes bones to soften and weaken.
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Rickets results when there is a vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorous 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
  • There is not enough calcium or phosphorous in the diet or it cannot be absorbed
Less often, rickets can be caused by other disorders that affect vitamin D absorption or calcium metabolism such as:
  • Kidney problems:
    • A hereditary disorder of the kidney called vitamin D-resistant rickets
    • Renal tubular acidosis—a non-hereditary kidney disorder that causes bone calcium to dissolve
    • Chronic kidney failure
    • Long-term kidney dialysis
  • Diseases of the small intestines with malabsorption
  • Disorders of the liver or pancreas disease
  • Cancer
  • Certain medications
  • Toxicity or poisoning from:
    • Cadmium
    • Lead
    • Aluminum
    • Outdated tetracycline

Risk Factors

Rickets is more common in children age 6 to 24 months. It is also more common in children of African American descent. Factors that may increase your child's chances of getting rickets include:
  • Lack of sun exposure
  • Babies who are breastfed—breast milk is low in vitamin D
  • Babies who do not drink enough formula that is fortified with vitamin D
  • Children who do not drink enough vitamin D-fortified milk
  • Lactose intolerance with low intake of vitamin D-fortified milk
  • Family history of rickets
  • Certain chronic illnesses that result in loss of or poor absorption of calcium

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