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Rate of rickets in the United Kingdom highest in 50 years

Posted on: March 18, 2014   by  Vitamin D Council

New research published in The Lancet has found that the rate of hospital admissions due to rickets is the highest it has been since the 1960’s.

Nutritional rickets is a condition in children in which bones don’t develop properly due to a lack of vitamin D and proper calcium absorption. It was very common during the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800’s, as more people shifted to urban dwellings, and doctors didn’t know much about how to prevent rickets. Since then, it has been thought that the rate of rickets has declined, as we’ve learned more about it and how proper vitamin D and calcium nutrition prevents and treats rickets.

However, as of late, it appears that rickets is back on the rise.

Researchers in the present study looked at hospital records of all hospitals in England for children who were diagnosed with rickets from 1968 to 2011. They were interested in seeing what sort of changes in the number of rickets cases had occurred over the last 50 years.

They found that the rate of rickets was highest between 2007 and 2011, with 3.16 cases per 100,000 children. This is in comparison to 0.34 cases per 100,000 children between 1991 and 1996.

The researchers stated that the increase in rickets may be due to changes in hospital admissions, diagnoses or an increased severity of rickets. However, since rickets is a straightforward diagnosis, there is a good possibility that the true incidence is indeed rising.

“Hospitalization rates for rickets in England are now the highest in five decades,” the researchers stated.

The United Kingdom’s Chief Medical Officer has raised concerns over the increasing incidence of rickets in the United Kingdom. Just last year, she called for free vitamin D supplements for all children under the age of 5 to help lower the incidence of rickets.


Goldacre, M., Hall, N. & Yeates, D. Hospitalisation for children with rickets in England: a historical perspective. The Lancet, 2014.

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