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Some of the symptoms of rickets include pain, bone weakening, bone deformations, dental problems and a short stature. Weakness also can occur in muscles, resulting in muscle spasms and sometime in seizures. Early signs of rickets can include restlessness and excessive sweating of the head during sleeping, changes in appetite, fatigue and weight loss.
Rickets is often the result of an impaired metabolism of vitamin D and calcium. A general vitamin deficiency is often the cause, but a lack of vitamin D and calcium seem to be one of the leading causes of the childhood disease. Vitamin D is most important because it aids in the absorption of calcium, which is important for building strong bones. As a result of the deficiency, the majority of the symptoms affect the strength and formation of bones.
Early signs and symptoms of rickets include sweating of the head during sleeping or after feeding, restlessness, pale skin and digestive problems. Changes in appetite and weight loss are also common signs of rickets. The victim might tire easy and become inactive because of the weakness in the bones and muscles.
Later symptoms of rickets become noticeable to the eye as the bones begin to weaken and deform. One common condition is bowed legs, which occurs when the legs begin to curve outward, creating the shape of a bow. Knock-knees is when the knees are bent inward and come in contact when the legs are straightened. Other symptoms include a curved spine, a breast bone projection and a softened and enlarged skull. The pelvic bone is also often deformed, and the wrists and ankles can become abnormally enlarged.
The weakened bones are often quite painful and can result in bone fractures during falls or during strenuous activities. A short stature also is commonly seen, resulting in a height of no more than 5 feet (1.5 m) tall. Other rickets symptoms include dental problems, such as a delayed development of the teeth, cavities and structural defects of the teeth.
The symptoms of rickets affect not only the bone structures, they also can affect the functioning of the muscles. The muscles can become weak, which is often referred to as floppy baby syndrome. Involuntary muscle contractions, also known as muscle spasms, are present in many cases. In severe cases, it can lead to seizures, which require immediate attention by a qualified health care provider.
This is one of the reasons so many charities have programs available to supply goats to impoverished families. The goats provide milk, which takes care of the calcium, and then the family can sell leftover milk, have the goat bred and sell the kids for milk or meat. The kids can also provide valuable meat for the family.
I really support programs like this since they help the people help themselves and also help the families prevent diseases like rickets and other conditions caused by malnutrition.
I remember the first time I saw a picture of a child with rickets. I was shocked. I didn't think any such thing still existed in the 20th century. Unfortunately, it does, though.
It seems on the face of it, that rickets should be easy enough to prevent, but that's not the case. In Third World countries, a child might be exposed to plenty of sunshine, but not have enough calcium and Vitamin D in the diet to convert it through sunlight. It's hard to imagine a life where people don't have access to even basic nutrition, but it's truth.
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