22 January 2010

A resurgence of rickets in Britain

A British Medical Journal article attributes the return of the disease to lifestyle changes which have decreased exposure to sunlight:
Scientists say that rickets is becoming “disturbingly common” among British children. The disease is caused by chronic vitamin D deficiencies, which can be triggered by long periods out of natural sunlight and a poor diet... More than 20 new cases are discovered every year in Newcastle alone... Kids tend to stay indoors more these days and play on their computer... Fifty years ago many children would have been given regular doses of cod liver oil, but this practice has all but died out...

Half of all adults in Britain are estimated to suffer vitamin D deficiency in the winter and spring — one in six severely so, with the problem worse in Scotland and the North of England. Asian populations and individuals who cover much of their skin for religious reasons are also at increased risk.
There will be some disagreement as to whether the proper remediation is vitamin D supplementation or encouraging more sunlight exposure (or giving the kids laptops).

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