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J Fam Health Care. 2011 Mar-Apr;21(2):25-9.

Rickets: concerns over the worldwide increase.

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  • 1Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

Abstract

Rickets is a childhood disease that causes a softening of the bones, potentially leading to fractures and deformity. Eighty years ago it was thought to have largely been eradicated from the U.K. However a recent increase in cases of rickets, not just in Britain but around the world, has proven this isn't the case. Today the disease affects children from all types of socio-economic backgrounds, not just the poorer ones, and it is primarily caused by low levels of vitamin D and certain foods. In January 2011 the government's chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies recommended all children aged six months to five should be given vitamin D supplements, particularly during winter months when natural sunshine is limited. The irony is that the advice in recent years for children to wear a high factor sunscreen and remain covered up while playing outdoors are partly felt to be behind the reason for its re-emergence. Parents and health professionals alike were shocked when it was revealed that a school girl living on the Isle of Wight developed rickets precisely because of her mother's vigilance at following sun safety rules. NICE, in their latest report (Jan 2011) stated that: "Exposure to the sun has a number of benefits. For example, it increases people's sense of wellbeing, allows them to synthesise vitamin D and provides opportunities for physical activity". A tendency for children to stay indoors and watch TV or play on computer games, rather than play outside when the sun is shining, is arguably also another contributing factor.

PMID:
21678784
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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