Calcium deficiency raising ricket incidence among infants

Related tags Nutrition Milk Vitamin d

Increasing consumption of sodas and juices could be causing rickets
associated with calcium deficiency in North American children, as
children drink less nutrient-rich milk, suggest researchers.

Sodas and juices could be causing rickets associated with calcium deficiency in North American children, suggests new research.

Researchers linked cases of rickets - a disease usually attributed to a lack of vitamin D or insufficient exposure to sunlight, and more prevalent than previously thought - to a lack of dietary calcium.

The new findings, to be published in today's issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism​, highlight the need to maintain a healthy diet for infants and children once breast feeding stops.

Dr Thomas Carpenter and his colleagues studied the medical records of 43 children in New Haven, Connecticut with nutritional rickets. Eighty-six per cent of the children were of African American, Hispanic or Middle Eastern descent. More than 93 per cent of the children were breastfed, but 15 per cent received vitamin D supplements.

Records also showed that 86 per cent of the children with available food histories were weaned to diets with minimal dairy content. The average age of developing rickets was 20 months.

Nearly 50 per cent of the children had normal measures of vitamin D status, suggesting that the incidence of calcium deficiency rickets is much higher than previously thought among North American infants, report the researchers.

"Most people think of rickets as a disease of poor, third world countries. However, we are seeing that in North American communities, infants can develop rickets if they do not receive adequate levels of vitamin D or calcium,"​ explained Dr Carpenter.

"Once breast feeding stops, even with attention to vitamin D, many infants do not have adequate intake of calcium."

He added that the changing trend for children's beverages, once predominantly milk but now increasingly sodas and fruit juices, could be contributing to the high incidence of rickets, since milk is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D.

Some researchers also suggest that vitamin D levels are going down as parents protect children from the sun.

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