Nutritional Rickets Still Afflict Children in North Texas

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Abstract of Jounal Article, June 2000

By Mehul Shah, MD; Nina Salhab, MS, RD/LD; Diane Patterson, RN; and Mouin G. Seikaly, MD

Nutritional rickets is uncommon in North America, particularly in regions where sunlight is plentiful. Recent epidemics in North America occurred in dark-skinned toddlers with poor nutrition who had insufficient exposure to sunlight and whose parents were members of ethnic, social, and socioeconomic groups with predisposing practices. Nine children (8 toddlers and 1 infant) were referred to the Bone Metabolic Clinic at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for suspected rickets between October 1997 and October 1998. The diagnosis of nutritional rickets was based on clinical, biochemical, and radiological evidence. All children were dark-skinned: 8 were African Americans and 1 was of Hispanic parentage. All children were breast-fed with minimal intake of dairy products; none received vitamin supplementation. All children were followed up by health care professionals. Two patients were children of upper-middle class parents. Birth order was not a contributing factor in the development of nutritional rickets. Radiological and biochemical rachitic changes remitted within 3 months of vitamin D therapy combined with dietary modification. Primary care providers should consider vitamin D supplementation in all infants with increased skin pigmentation and especially in those who are primarily breast-fed. Nutritional rickets can develop in dark-skinned infants of any social or ethnic background. Residing in a geographical area with abundant sunlight is not a guarantee against the development of nutritional rickets in dark-skinned children.

June 2000 Texas Medicine Contents
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