Rickets / Paediatric Osteomalacia


About Rickets

Rickets is a deficiency of Vitamin D which is also known by many other names like Osteomalacia, Renal Osteodystrophy, Paediatric Osteomalacia, Vitamin D deficiency and Renal Rickets. This disease involves softening and weakening of bones in children due to deficiency of Vitamin D. This softening occurs from a loss of the mineral calcium from the skeleton as a result of which bones become flexible and gradually are molded by forces, such as bearing weight, that are exerted on them. This condition could lead to deformities of the body structure.

Rickets is most likely to occur during periods of rapid growth, when the body demands high levels of calcium and phosphate. Rickets may be seen in young children 6 to 24 months old and is uncommon in newborns.

What are the causes of rickets?

The main cause of rickets is the deficiency of vitamin D caused in the body during childhood. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that may be absorbed from the intestines or may be produced by the skin when the skin is exposed to sunlight (ultraviolet light of sunlight helps the body to form vitamin D). The absorbed vitamin D is converted into its active form to act as a hormone to regulate calcium absorption from the intestine and to regulate levels of calcium and phosphate in the bones. If there is a deficiency of Vitamin D, the body is unable to properly regulate calcium and phosphate levels. When the blood levels of these minerals become too low, it results in destruction of the support matrix of the bones.

In rickets, another mechanism in the body works to increase the blood calcium level. The parathyroid gland (four numbers of hormone producing glands, usually located in the neck) may increase its functioning rate to compensate for decreased levels of calcium in the bloodstream.To increase the level of calcium in the blood the hormone destroys the calcium present in the bones of the body and this results in further loss of calcium and phosphorous from the bones. In severe cases, cysts may develop in the bones. Vitamin D deficiency could be caused due to numerous reasons.




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