Rickets is a disease of abnormal bone growth in growing children due to mineral deficiency. It is most often due to vitamin D deficiency, although in some areas of Africa calcium deficiency rickets is observed. Vitamin D is produced in the skin by the action of sunlight on a form of cholesterol, or is ingested in the diet. After several conversion steps, the active hormone is produced and regulates the deposition of calcium and phosphorus in the bones. Insufficient active hormone results in slowed growth and malformation of the growing ends of the long bones - rickets - and softening of the bones in general due to poor mineralization. The latter condition is known as osteomalacia. The diagnosis of rickets is made by blood tests and characteristic xray findings.

Rickets has been diagnosed in otherwise healthy breast fed infants who were not supplemented with vitamin D, especially very dark skinned babies.

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