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Rickets warning as new cases rise


More than 20% of Southampton children tested for bone problems showed signs of rickets, a hospital has revealed.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Professor Nicholas Clarke said he was stunned after checking 200 children from Southampton for the bone problem caused by a lack of vitamin D and finding that 20% of them showed signs of the disease, which can cause weak and bowed bones.

Normally, vitamin D is taken in by the body through exposure to the sun, while eggs and oily fish also contain vitamin D. The recent rise has been attributed to poor diets and children not being allowed outside.

Professor Clarke said: “In my 22 years at Southampton General Hospital, this is a completely new occurrence in the South that has evolved over the last 12 to 24 months and we are seeing cases across the board, from areas of deprivation up to the middle classes, so there is a real need to get national attention focused on the dangers this presents.

“The return of rickets in northern parts of the UK came as a surprise despite the colder climate and lower levels of sunshine in the North, but what has developed in Southampton is quite astonishing.”

Professor Clarke added that vitamin D supplements should be used more widely to stop the rise in cases.


Readers' comments (4)

  • It's so sad to read stories like this - it's like going back to the dark ages before NHS & health visitors that I learnt about as 'history' in my training. But it is also telling how the Professor suggests supplements rather than focussing on getting children outside & active more, & the dietary issues. How have we moved so far away from public health to 'cure everything with a tablet' when so much current evidence shows addressing risk factors & healthy lifestyle would reduce mental health problems, CVS, cancer etc etc.

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  • Rufus Greenbaum

    Lack of sunlight is implicated in over 60 illnesses.

    In the UK we live so far north of the equator that we cannot receive enough sunlight for more than 100 days in the year

    Also, today the public does not spend much time in the sun with the skin exposed and we have been brainwashed that we must only go in the sun wearing sunscreen
    - which unfortunately filters out all the useful UV-B rays.

    There is recent evidence that blood serum levels of Vitamin D [25(OH)D] should be greater than 120 nmol/L in order to avoid some of the long-term illnesses

    Professor Clarke at Southamnpton is dealing with the extreme cases of Rickets that present to hospital, where 25(OH)D is probably less than 25 nmol/L

    Other UK Paediatricians are receiving cases of Seizures, Stridor & Heart Failure where 25(OH)D is way below 25 nmol/L

    The average UK person is at 35 nmol/L at the end of the UK winter and only 75 nmol/L at the end of the summer.

    People with dark skin ( Type 4 & 5) are probably way below the average and are in great danger of being dangerously deficient

    In 1942 the government was inspired to provide Cod Liver Oil & Orange Juice for children. Today it is NOT possible to obtain enough Vitamin D from food, so supplementation is required.

    The average person needs 4,000 IU (100micrograms) per day in the winter and 2,000 IU (50 micrograms) per day in the summer. Overweight people may need twice these amounts. This should be Vitamin D3, without extra Calcium.

    Unfortunately such products are not in the BNF so doctors who understand what is required are sending patients to healthfood stores to buy OTC supplements !

    The whole story is a scandal
    - search the BMJ from 1998 onwards and you will find articles and letters, where doctors are asking for "something to be done"

    More at: ( search for "Vitamin D"


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  • anonymous 15th Nov - you can't get adequate vitamin d from diet or being outside, supplementation is necessary.

    R Greenbaum has written a good response - no more to add!

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  • At 52 I have just been diagnosed with osteopenia due to vit D defficiency. I am caucasion,eat a normal diet including eggs and oily fish and am subjected to english sunshine and a foriegn holiday in the sun once a year.
    I was shocked when I was diagnosed,I didnt ever think I would get vit d defficiency as nurses we are all led to believe that it is only 3rd world countries and immigrants who suffer from this.

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