A recent study published in the journal Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health identified 58 children with rickets due to vitamin D deficiency.
Rickets is the softening and weakening of bones in children, usually caused by an extreme and prolonged vitamin D deficiency. It can lead to skeletal deformity, seizures and developmental problems. Most cases of rickets can be successfully treated with vitamin D and calcium supplementation.
Researchers from Otago’s New Zealand Paediatric Surveillance Unit have recently completed the first study to provide insight into the prevalence of rickets occurring in children under the age of 15 years in New Zealand.
Each month from July 2010 to June 2013, researchers asked about 220 pediatricians in New Zealand, or 92% of the current workforce, if they had treated any cases of vitamin D deficiency rickets in the past month. Thirty eight pediatricians reported a total of 73 rickets cases. The researchers excluded cases that did not meet the strict clinical definition of vitamin D deficiency rickets, leaving 58 cases with the disease.
Co-author of the study, Dr. Ben Wheeler, stated, “Of the 58 patients identified, we found none had previously received appropriate vitamin D supplementation, which is concerning.”
The study concluded that at-risk mothers and children should be better targeted for vitamin D supplementation.