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Bone. 2012 May;50(5):1074-80. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2012.02.010. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Prevention of nutritional rickets in Nigerian children with dietary calcium supplementation.

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Department of Family Medicine (TDT), Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street, SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Nutritional rickets in Nigerian children usually results from dietary calcium insufficiency. Typical dietary calcium intakes in African children are about 200mg daily (approximately 20-28% of US RDAs for age). We sought to determine if rickets could be prevented with supplemental calcium or with an indigenous food rich in calcium. We enrolled Nigerian children aged 12 to 18months from three urban communities. Two communities were assigned calcium, either as calcium carbonate (400mg) or ground fish (529±109mg) daily, while children in all three communities received vitamin A (2500IU) daily as placebo. Serum markers of mineral homeostasis and forearm bone density (pDEXA) were measured and radiographs were obtained at enrollment and after 18months of supplementation. The overall prevalence of radiographic rickets at baseline was 1.2% and of vitamin D deficiency [serum 25(OH)D<12ng/ml] 5.4%. Of 647 children enrolled, 390 completed the 18-month follow-up. Rickets developed in 1, 1, and 2 children assigned to the calcium tablet, ground fish, and control groups, respectively (approximate incidence 6.4/1000 children/year between 1 and 3years of age). Children who developed rickets in the calcium-supplemented groups had less than 50% adherence. Compared with the group that received no calcium supplementation, the groups that received calcium had a greater increase in areal bone density of the distal and proximal 1/3 radius and ulna over time (P<0.04). We conclude that calcium supplementation increased areal bone density at the radius and ulna, but a larger sample size would be required to determine its effect on the incidence of rickets.

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