Does rickets in children affect height?
11 mins read

Does rickets in children affect height?

Upon learning that their beloved children have been diagnosed with rickets, many parents are now facing a wave of worry and anxiety. The potential long-term consequences on their kids’ physical stature have become a source of deep concern. It’s only natural for these parents to wonder whether this condition will affect their children’s height as they grow into adults. Can anything be done to lessen the impact of rickets and support their children in achieving their full height potential? In the pages of this article, we embark on a journey to explore these urgent questions, providing valuable insights and practical advice on how to address the height-related apprehensions that often accompany a rickets diagnosis.

Rickets in Children: Causes and Symptoms

Rickets in children is a complex medical condition characterized by the emergence of small, fragile, and underdeveloped bones. These skeletal issues can hinder a child’s ability to attain the expected physical strength and stature for their age, thereby posing significant health challenges.

Root Causes of Childhood Rickets

A predominant factor contributing to the development of rickets in children is often a deficiency in crucial nutrients, notably vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus. This deficiency can stem from various sources, including an insufficient or imbalanced diet, impaired nutrient absorption within the digestive system, and limited exposure to natural sunlight. Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in enabling the body to absorb calcium and maintain optimal bone health. In the absence of adequate vitamin D, the body’s capacity to effectively utilize calcium and phosphorus, essential for bone strength and growth, is compromised.

In certain instances, children may inherit a predisposition to rickets if their parents have a history of the condition during their youth. This hereditary form of rickets can be attributed to genetic factors affecting the body’s ability to metabolize and utilize vital nutrients, including vitamin D.

Recognizing Symptoms

The symptoms associated with rickets in children can manifest in various ways, although they consistently reflect an underlying issue with bone development and health:

1. Skeletal Deformities: Rickets often leads to irregularities in bone growth, resulting in conditions such as bowed legs, knock knees, or a curved spine.

2. Delayed Growth: Children afflicted with rickets may encounter growth delays, failing to achieve the expected height and weight milestones for their age.

3. Muscle Weakness: Muscle weakness can lead to motor skill challenges and hindered motor development in affected children.

4. Pain and Tenderness: Children suffering from rickets may experience discomfort and tenderness in their bones, making physical activities an unpleasant experience.

5. Dental Issues: Rickets can give rise to dental problems, including delayed tooth development and weakened tooth enamel.

6. Fractures: Due to weakened bone structure, children with rickets are more susceptible to fractures and broken bones.

Timely Diagnosis and Treatment

Early detection and intervention are paramount in addressing rickets in children, preventing further complications, and fostering healthy bone growth. Treatment typically involves rectifying the underlying nutritional deficiencies through dietary modifications, vitamin D supplementation, and increased calcium and phosphorus intake. Furthermore, exposure to natural sunlight aids in the body’s natural synthesis of vitamin D.

Vigilance on the part of parents and healthcare providers in monitoring a child’s growth and development is critical. Identifying signs of rickets early enables prompt intervention and effective management of the condition, ultimately ensuring the child’s well-being and future health.

Detecting Signs of Rickets in Children

Rickets is a condition that can manifest in various ways, with its severity differing from one child to another. Recognizing the signs and symptoms early is vital for prompt intervention and effective management. Here, we delve into the various indicators of rickets, shedding light on the intricate aspects of this condition.

  • Skeletal Anomalies: Rickets can bring about noticeable alterations in bone structure, which can include bowed legs or knock knees. These deformities stem from weakened and improperly developed bones.
  • Stunted Growth: Children afflicted by rickets may exhibit slower growth rates compared to their peers, both in terms of height and weight. This delayed growth can result in a smaller stature relative to their age.
  • Muscular Weakness: Muscle weakness is a common manifestation, leading to challenges in motor skills and delayed motor development. Affected children may struggle with activities like crawling, walking, or other physical endeavors.
  • Bone Discomfort: Rickets often gives rise to bone pain and tenderness, which can be localized to specific areas or affect multiple bones. Such discomfort can deter children from engaging in physical activities.
  • Skeletal Aberrations: Beyond bowed legs and knock knees, rickets can lead to additional skeletal abnormalities, including a curved spine (scoliosis) or an enlarged head.
  • Dental Issues: Rickets can also impact dental health, causing delays in tooth development and weakening of tooth enamel. This heightened vulnerability may result in an increased risk of dental cavities and structural tooth problems.
  • Fracture Susceptibility: Due to the fragility of bones affected by rickets, children may become more prone to fractures or broken bones, even from minor accidents or falls.
  • Irritability: Some children with rickets may experience irritability and mood changes, which can be linked to the discomfort and pain associated with the condition.
  • Breathing Challenges: In severe instances, rickets can affect the chest bones, leading to deformities that may induce breathing difficulties.

It is essential to emphasize that the presentation of rickets can vary significantly among children, with some cases being less severe than others. Timely detection and intervention play a pivotal role in effectively managing rickets and averting further complications. Should any of these signs be noticed, it is strongly advisable to seek consultation with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive assessment and appropriate treatment.

How to treat rickets in children

Rickets, if not detected and corrected in time, will cause many serious consequences such as: thoracic deformity, hunchback, reduced respiratory capacity, limited height, narrow pelvis causing functional limitations reproductive health in adulthood, the risk of osteoporosis and fractures in adulthood.

If a child is found to have rickets, parents need to take the following measures:

Provide vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of rickets in children. This is an important micronutrient for the child’s bone system and height. It helps bones absorb and metabolize calcium and phosphorus better. Therefore, to overcome rickets, parents need to provide enough vitamin D/day for their children.

AgeVitamin D requirement/day
0-1 years old400 IU
From 1-18 years old600-1000 IU
From 19-70 years old1500-2000 IU
Over 70 years old1500-2000 IU

Vitamin/D requirements according to age

Eating a lot of foods containing vitamin D is an effective way to provide vitamin D parents should not miss.

Foods rich in vitamin D: Including: Salmon, herring, sardines, oysters, shrimp, egg yolks, mushrooms, milk, orange juice, cereals, oats…

Supplying Calcium

Calcium is a major component of bones, affecting bone growth and mineralization. When their children have rickets, slow growth, parents need to quickly add calcium to their children through food in meals or functional foods.

Calcium needs will vary depending on the age of the child:

AgeCalcium needs/day
0-6 months old300-400 mg
7-11 months old400 mg
1-3 years old500 mg
4-6 years old600 mg
7-9 years old700 mg
10-18 years old1300 mg
Over 18 years1000-1200 mg

Calcium needs/day by age based on recommendations of the Ministry of Health

Food is an effective source of Calcium. Parents can feed their children many food groups with rich calcium content such as: Fresh milk, yogurt, legumes, nuts, broccoli, spinach…

If the child is over 5 years old, the digestive system is stable to help absorb nutrients more effectively, parents can give the child a calcium supplement and other height-friendly ingredients. This will be a valuable source of nutrition, helping children overcome rickets and gain height quickly.

Let children bathe in the sun

Let children sunbathe for 15-20 minutes/day in the light sunshine hours before 9am and after 4pm. When exposed to sunlight, the skin can synthesize vitamin D for the body. This is an effective and extremely simple treatment for rickets that any family can do.

An important note is that not letting your child sunbathe in the hot sun can damage the skin and adversely affect the health of the child.

Supplement milk against rickets

Anti-rickets milk is a dairy product fortified with nutrients to help children have strong bones and good growth such as calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, potassium… Using anti-rickets milk helps normal children prevent risks rickets or malnutrition. Children with rickets who drink anti-rickets milk will increase bone density, stimulate bone growth, and help improve the consequences of rickets.

This is the right choice for parents who do not have much time to cook or let their children sunbathe often. However, it is necessary to be careful in the selection of products to find a suitable, safe and highly nutritious anti-rickets milk for your child.

Does rickets in children impact their height?

Children suffering from rickets are at risk of having below-average height. It’s important to understand that rickets occurs due to a deficiency in vitamin D, calcium, and other essential nutrients necessary for maintaining strong bones. When these components are insufficient, proper bone growth is compromised, resulting in shorter stature.

As a result, rickets can have a detrimental effect on height development. If rickets is not treated promptly and adequately, children may not achieve their full height potential as they grow older.

Can children with rickets participate in sports?

Many parents worry that their children with weakened bones and low bone quality may be more prone to skeletal injuries during physical activities and sports. However, engaging in sports is actually an effective way to stimulate bone mineralization and modeling, increase bone density, and promote height growth. Therefore, it’s important for children with rickets to regularly participate in sports as part of their treatment regimen to support both their overall health and rapid height increase.

Parents should encourage their children to engage in sports suitable for their age, physical condition, and current health status, such as swimming, jogging, jumping rope, soccer, and tug of war. However, adult supervision is necessary during training sessions to promptly address any unexpected incidents. Additionally, the duration of exercise should be shorter compared to children with normal physical strength, typically around 15-20 minutes, to ensure that the children do not overexert themselves, which could be detrimental to their health.

Rickets is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. Parents should remain vigilant and seek appropriate remedies promptly if they suspect their children may have rickets.

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