Rickets causes soft, weak bones in children. It usually occurs when they do not get enough vitamin D, which helps growing bones absorb the minerals calcium and phosphorous. It can also happen when calcium or phosphorus levels are too low.
Your child might not get enough vitamin D if he or she:
- Has dark skin
- Spends too little time outside
- Has on sunscreen all the time when out of doors
- Doesn’t eat foods containing vitamin D because of lactose intolerance or a strict vegetarian diet
- Is breastfed without receiving vitamin D supplements
- Can’t make or use vitamin D because of a medical disorder such as celiac disease
In addition to dietary rickets, children can get an inherited form of the disease. Symptoms include bone pain or tenderness, impaired growth, and deformities of the bones and teeth. Your child’s doctor uses lab and imaging tests to make the diagnosis. Treatment is replacing the calcium, phosphorus, or vitamin D that are lacking in the diet. Rickets is rare in the United States.