General or Other | Rheumatology | Rickets (Disease)


Rickets is a disorder caused by a lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate. It leads to softening and weakening of the bones. Infants who are breastfed only may develop vitamin D deficiency. Human breast milk does not supply the proper amount of vitamin D. This can be a particular problem for darker-skinned children in winter months (when there are lower levels of sunlight).

Causes and Risk factors

Lack of vitamin D may cause rickets. Not getting enough calcium and phosphorous in your diet can also lead to rickets. Rickets caused by a lack of these minerals in diet is rare in developed countries, because calcium and phosphorous are found in milk and green vegetables. Your genes may increase your risk of rickets. Hereditary rickets is a form of the disease that is passed down through families. It occurs when the kidneys are unable to hold onto the mineral phosphate. Rickets may also be caused by kidney disorders that involve renal tubular acidosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment for rickets may be administered gradually over several months or in a single-day dose of 15,000 mcg (600,000 U) of vitamin D. If the gradual method is chosen, 125-250 mcg (5000-10,000 U) is given daily for 2-3 months until healing is well established and the alkaline phosphatase concentration is approaching the reference range. Because this method requires daily treatment, success depends on compliance.