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Disease of infancy and childhood characterized by defective bone growth due to lack of vitamin D. Calcium phosphate is not properly deposited in the bones, which become soft, curved, and stunted. Early symptoms include restlessness, profuse sweating, lack of limb and abdominal-muscle tone, soft skull bones, and developmental delays. Muscles may cramp and twitch. Without early treatment, effects may include bowlegs, knock-knees, and beadiness where the ribs meet the breastbone. A narrow chest and pelvis can later increase susceptibility to lung diseases and impede childbirth. Treatment is with high-dose vitamin D supplementation, sunlight, and a balanced diet. Adding vitamin D to milk has reduced rickets in high-latitude areas where the skin cannot produce enough.
Variants of RICKETS
rickets or vitamin D deficiency
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on rickets, visit Britannica.com.