Rickets is caused by a lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate in the body. This may happen due to:
- Lack of sun exposure so the body cannot create vitamin D
- Not eating enough foods with vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorous
- Problems in the body that prevent it from absorbing vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate
- Genetic problems, such as vitamin D-resistant rickets
Rickets is more common in children who:
- Are 6 to 24 months of age
- Have darker skin
Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Breastfeeding without vitamin D supplementation
- Lack of sun exposure
- Vegetarian diet without vitamin supplements
- Malabsorption syndromes, such as Celiac disease or cystic fibrosis
- Being born very early
- Having a mother with vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy
- Drugs that affect vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorous absorption or use
To lower the risk of rickets:
- Encourage children to eat foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D.
- Allow some exposure to sunlight. Fifteen minutes a day is usually enough. Any longer than that requires sun protection.
- Breastfed babies and bottle-fed babies who do not get enough vitamin D fortified formula may need to be given a supplement.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics http://www.eatright.org
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.healthychildren.org
Health Canada http://www.canada.ca
The Hospital for Sick Children—About Kids Health http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca
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Rickets. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/rickets.html. Accessed December 1, 2020.
Vitamin D deficiency in children (infancy through adolescence). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vitamin-d-deficiency-in-children-infancy-through-adolescence. Accessed December 1, 2020.