Friday, March 14, 2014

Rickets: Softening of the Bones


Osteomalacia or sometimes referred to as rickets for children with this condition, is the softening of the bones caused by a lack vitamin D. For individuals with osteomalacia, a defect has occurred in the bone building process whereas a bone conditions such as osteoporosis is the break down of previously formed bone. Rickets occurs near the joints where the growth plate on the bone does not harden or mineralize properly. Instead, the growth plate becomes wide and thick and if left untreated, adults may have bone deformities such as bowed legs.


The causes of rickets can vary, sometimes it is hereditary however, oftentimes, it is due to external factors including:

  • Lack of vitamin D from diet or not enough sunlight
  • Celiac disease
  • Kidney or liver disorders
  • Drugs used to treat seizures
People with osteomalacia are oftentimes smaller in stature, have bowed legs and some have large heads with prominent foreheads. They may also have lumps where the ribs come together at the sternum also known as the rachitic rosary.

Exams and Testing

X-Ray taken of a rickets patient

Doctors may ask for blood test to check for the levels of vitamin D, creatinine, calcium, and phosphate. A bone biopsy may be taken to detect bone softening. Bone x-rays along with a bone density test may be taken to detect for any minor fractures, bone loss or bone softening.

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