Rickets is disease resulting from a vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate shortage in children. It causes bones to soften and weaken.
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Rickets results when there is a vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorous shortage in a child's body. This may occur when:
Less often, rickets can be caused by other disorders that affect vitamin D absorption or calcium metabolism such as:

Risk Factors

Rickets is more common in children age 6 to 24 months. It is also more common in children of African American descent.
Factors that may increase your child's chances of getting rickets include:


Symptoms may include:


You will be asked about your child's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your child's bodily fluids and bone may be tested. This can be done with:
Pictures may be taken of structures inside your child's body. This can be done with an x-ray.


Treatment attempts to:

Treating Symptoms

Treatment to relieve or correct symptoms and bone changes:
  • Involves biologically active vitamin D, calcium, and/or phosphate
  • May include:
    • Wearing braces to reduce or prevent bony deformities
    • In severe cases, surgery to correct bony deformities

Treating the Underlying Cause

Treatment of the underlying cause may include:
  • Adding the following to your child's diet:
    • Supplements of vitamin D, calcium, and other minerals
    • Vitamin D-fortified dairy products
    • Foods high in vitamin D, such as fatty fish, egg yolk, and green vegetables
    • Foods high in calcium
  • Adequate, but not excessive, exposure to sunlight
  • Avoiding medication that may be causing poor calcium, phosphorous, or vitamin D absorption
  • Treating underlying illnesses


To help prevent rickets, your child should:


Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics


Health Canada

The Hospital for Sick Children—About Kids Health


Rickets. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated April 15, 2016. Accessed May 13, 2016. Vitamin D deficiency in children (infancy through adolescence). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated February 3, 2015. Accessed May 13, 2016.

Rickets: what it is and how it's treated. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Updated April 2014. Accessed May 13, 2016.

Balk SJ; Council on Environmental Health; Section on Dermatology. Ultraviolet radiation: a hazard to children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2011;127(3):e791-817.

Grant WB, Boucher BJ. Requirements for Vitamin D across the life span. Biol Res Nurs. 2011;13(2):120-133.

Wagner CL, Greer FR, American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding, American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Prevention of rickets and vitamin D deficiency in infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2008;122:1142-1152.

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