Rickets disease is most commonly associated with early childhood. One positive aspect of Rickets is that it is preventable – with a sufficient supply of vitamin D, e.g. through exposure to sunlight. A healthy and balanced diet is also important in the prevention of Rickets.
Rickets affects the bone structure, and in severe cases can cause permanent damage if left untreated. The disease renders the bones more fragile and thus more susceptible to breaks and fractures. Rickets has also been known to cause aches and pains in muscles. In certain cases Rickets will be caused by other medical conditions, especially those that affect the liver, digestive system and kidneys. Rickets can result in stunted or slowed growth if left untreated, in addition to malformed spines, breastbones and legs.
There is strong evidence that Rickets disease has hereditary traits, with the child being more likely to develop symptoms if the mother shows signs of vitamin D deficiency. The mother is more likely to cause a vitamin D deficiency in the infant if she breast feeds without a supplement.
Seeing as Rickets is caused by a lack of vitamin D, children with darker skin will be more likely to be affected by it. This is because the darker the skin, the less efficient it is at converting sunlight to vitamin D.
There is a very high awareness of skin cancer risks in children. This has resulted in parents using an excessive amount of sun cream on their children. This in turn has caused an increase in Rickets, as the skin is being blocked from receiving the required amount of sunlight to create vitamin D. A correlation between the over-use of sunblock and Rickets was discovered in Australia, where light-skinned people are (justifiably) concerned about the high levels of ultraviolet radiation. Although it is prudent to protect the skin from the sun, some moderation in sunblock usage is required, as the skin needs some exposure to natural light.
Vitamin D3 is both a vitamin and a hormone.
In adults, the most common reasons for Vitamin D3 deficiency in the United States is dues to lack of exposure to sunlight and infrequent consumption of cold water fish such as wild salmon, mackerel & sardines.
The positive aspect of Rickets is that the symptoms abate very rapidly after an increase in the intake of vitamin D. Furthermore, irregularities in bone development will also usually disappear with time, unless Rickets disease remains untreated throughout puberty.