March 10, 2011 13:48
Rickets, a softening of bones in children due to a lack of vitamin D or calcium and associated with 19th-century deprivation, is making a comeback, doctors say. In severe cases the disease, which was mostly eradicated last century, can cause bowed legs, distorted vertebrae and even fractures. The human body produces vitamin D from exposure to sunlight or nutrients like mushrooms or fish.
A team of medical researchers led by Dr. Park Mi-jung, a pediatrician at Inje University Sanggye Paik Hospital, said Wednesday that fewer mothers are taking their children outdoors to expose them to sunlight while more breastfeed their babies, which lacks vitamin D. This has led to an increase in rickets among infants, they added.
Studying 35 children who were hospitalized for abnormal bone growth over the last three years due to malnutrition and other factors, the team found that 80 percent of them had been diagnosed with rickets. Most were infants under 12 months old and had been breastfed.
"Many young mothers spend little time outdoors and go on diets, which leads to poor vitamin D production in their own bodies," Park said. "This affects their babies by causing them vitamin D deficiencies and damaging their bone growth."
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