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A disease of linear bone formation in children, most commonly the result of vitamin D deficiency, marked by inadequate mineralization of developing cartilage and newly formed bone, causing abnormalities in the shape, structure, and strength of the skeleton. This condition can be prevented by exposure to ultraviolet light (sunlight or artificial light) and administration of vitamin D in quantities that provide 400 I.U. of vitamin D activity per day.
SYN: SEE: rachitis (2)
Rickets has many causes, including diseases that affect vitamin D or phosphorus intake, absorption, and metabolism; renal tubular disorders; and diseases in which the child is chronically acidotic, among others.
Affected children are often lethargic, and may have flaccid musculature and decreased muscular strength. On physical examination, multiple bony abnormalities are present, including frontal bossing, bowing of the long bones, flattening of the sides of the thoracic cavity, kyphosis, scoliosis, or lordosis.
Treatment and prognosis depend on the correction of the underlying cause. Supplemental vitamin D therapy is appropriate for some patients.
Excessive use of vitamin D (in infants, more than 20,000 I.U. daily; in adults, more than 100,000 I.U. daily) should be avoided because of the risk of hypervitaminosis D.