Causes of Rickets

One of the main causes of rickets is the deficiency of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphate in the body. When there are exceptionally low levels of these minerals in the blood, the body releases calcium and phosphate to be released from the bones instead. This causes the bones to turn painfully soft and weak. Vitamin D is normally absorbed from food or produced by the skin as a result of exposure to sunlight. The highest risk group for rickets is children between the ages of six months to twenty-four months. Vitamin D deficiency occurs in people who:

  • Work or stay indoors for extended periods of time
  • Wears sunscreen at all times and are not exposed to any form of sunlight
  • Live in countries where there is not much direct sunlight
  • Are lactose intolerant and therefore do not receive vitamin D from dairy or milk products
  • Do not consume the required amount of milk products
  • Follow a vegetarian diet
  • Follow a diet low in foods containing vitamin D such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and fish oil
  • Have a family history of rickets (there are some types of rickets caused due to genetics and passed down from one family member to another)
  • Have kidney disorders such as renal tubular acidosis, chronic kidney failure, and long-term kidney dialysis
  • Suffer from disorders which prevent the absorption of vitamin D in the body by reducing the amount fats digested by the body. These include Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and Cystic fibrosis
  • Suffer from certain cancers
  • Suffer from cadmium or aluminum toxicity or lead poisoning

A vitamin D deficiency may also be found in:

  • Premature babies
  • Infants who have been fed only breast milk (as breast milk does not have the requisite amount of vitamin D)
  • Infants who are breastfed by mothers with a vitamin D deficiency
  • Dark skinned children (especially during the months of winter when there is less sunlight)
  • People who follow a diet that is low in calcium and phosphorus
  • Children with liver disorders who cannot convert vitamin D into its active form
  • People who are on anti-seizure medication as these drugs may interfere with the body's ability to process vitamin D