What is Rickets?

Rickets is a softening and weakening of bone caused by a prolonged Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D comes from sunlight, food and supplements. When a child does not get the appropriate amount of Vitamin D, calcium and phosphate are excreted in the urine rather than being reabsorbed into the blood stream. Calcium and phosphate need to be present and circulated in the blood in order to promote bone growth. If calcium and phosphate levels are too low in the blood, the body breaks down bone in order to return these minerals to the blood. When bone cells are broken down, the bone becomes soft and weak. This can lead to skeletal abnormalities.

What are the causes?

  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Conditions that impair Vitamin D absorption like surgical removal of the stomach or celiac disease
  • Lack of exposure to sunlight
  • Hereditary Rickets – an inherited form that occurs when phosphate cannot be reabsorbed into the bloodstream and is therefore excreted in the urine

Treatments for Rickets:

  • Vitamin D supplements or increased consumption of foods enriched with Vitamin D
  • Braces to make sure bones grow in the appropriate position
  • Surgery to correct skeletal deformities in more severe cases

What can I do?

  • Make sure your child eats or drinks plenty of Vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D and calcium can be found in milk and dairy products, green leafy vegetables and fortified juices and cereals.
  • Talk to your doctor about additional treatments and lifestyle modifications that can help your child’s bones grow normally.


It is important to remember the health information found on this Web site is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your health care provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a true medical emergency, call 911 immediately.


  • Skeletal deformities like bowed legs, abnormal spinal curvature, pelvic deformities and breastbone projection in the chest
  • Bone pain
  • Fragile bones – children with Rickets are more likely to break bones
  • Impaired growth – without calcium and phosphate children cannot grow strong bones
  • Dental problems
  • Muscle weakness