Often in large cities, especially the northern regions, there is such a disease as rickets in infants. The symptoms of this disease indicate that the child’s body lacks certain resources for rapid growth and formation. What is this disease, what are the symptoms of rickets and how to treat it?
Why does rickets develop in babies?
It is known that calcium and phosphorus are necessary for building a strong bone system. But these elements should not only be ingested in sufficient quantities - they also need to be qualitatively absorbed and accumulated where they are needed. Vitamin D is responsible for this entire process. Its deficiency causes calcium and phosphorus not to be absorbed by the body properly - this leads to a deficiency of these elements in the bones and, as a result, to rickets.
The appearance of this disease is influenced by many factors. The most common causes of rickets are as follows.
- Premature birth. It is in the last weeks of pregnancy that the body of the fetus accumulates the greatest amount of calcium and phosphorus.
- Insufficient physical activity of the child.
- Symptoms of rickets can occur due to lack of exposure to sunlight. From late autumn to early spring, due to a lack of light, children are more susceptible to the disease. In addition, polluted air, smog, window glass, as well as thick clothing interfere with the passage of UV rays, so even in sunny weather a child may experience a shortage of ultraviolet radiation needed by him.
- Diseases of the digestive tract, violating the calcium-phosphorus metabolism in the body.
- Large body weight at birth, as well as too fast weight gain after birth.
- Nutrition containing insufficient amounts of vitamins and trace elements.
- Increased melanin content in the skin. It strongly inhibits the production of vitamin D, so the propensity for the disease rickets often have dark-skinned and dark-skinned children, despite sufficient exposure to the sun.
- Chronic diseases of internal organs (eg, liver, kidney).
- Hereditary predisposition
Types and signs of rickets
Rickets are classified according to various criteria:
By concentration in the blood of calcium and phosphorus:
- rickets without characteristic changes in the concentration of elements in the blood.
By the nature of the course of the disease:
- acute form of the disease;
- recurrent form.
According to severity, rickets are divided into 3 stages, each of which is characterized by certain symptoms:
- Restless behavior, fearfulness, irritability, tearfulness.
- Sleep becomes superficial and restless.
- Increased sweating, which causes itching. Sweat takes on a sour smell.
- Muscles become flabby and weak.
- Diarrhea or constipation occurs regularly.
- Worsening appetite.
- Due to the fact that the bones of the skull become soft, the spring draws in later.
- On the edges appear thickening.
- The belly increases.
- Anemia appears.
- The skull becomes disproportionate, its shape changes.
- Teeth erupt with a delay and in the wrong order.
- Growth is slowing.
- Immunity is weakened, the child is often exposed to infectious diseases.
- The pelvic bones, the spine, the thorax are deformed.
- Curved limbs.
- The chest is deformed.
- The work of the internal organs is impaired, the liver and spleen increase in size.
- Fixed delay of physical and mental development.
It is worth noting that many of these symptoms (for example, restless behavior, problems with stool, loss of appetite, etc.) are not always signs of rickets, but can be caused by completely different reasons. Therefore, before you begin treatment, you should definitely show the baby to a specialist.
Rickets in infants: diagnosis and treatment
Even if there are clear signs of rickets, it is necessary to diagnose and identify the nature of the disease, its degree. The survey determines the level of alkaline phosphatase, phosphorus and calcium in the body, and also determines the condition of the joints and bone tissue. The following methods are used for this:
- blood test;
- urinalysis (including Sulkovich test);
- radiography of ribs, spine, tubular bones, skull;
- CT scan;
Treatment of rickets in infants involves an integrated approach.
Since during the disease in the body metabolic processes are disturbed, the child suffers a deficiency not only of vitamin D, but also of other vitamins, minerals and microelements. Today, most often for its replacement are used complex preparations containing the full range of necessary substances. When used alone, vitamin D is the most preferred form of an aqueous or oily solution. Its overdose is dangerous to the health of the baby: it can lead to violations of the gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system. The required dose of vitamin D is calculated by the doctor depending on the stage of the disease, the quality of food, climate and lifestyle. The approximate dosage for a child with rickets is 600 IU per day. For better absorption of vitamin D3 is advised to take in the morning, along with a meal.
The ideal nutritional option for infants is mother's milk, which is able to fully provide it with the necessary amount of vitamin D and other nutrients - of course, provided that the mother eats a balanced diet. Infant formulas can compensate for the lack of breast milk. But they must be adapted, that is, close to it in its composition, enriched with essential vitamins and microelements. At the age of about 6 months, the baby begins to be given complementary food - usually vegetable purees, egg yolks, cottage cheese, and cereals are added to older children. Increased consumption of fats and carbohydrates (especially in the baked goods) prevents the body from absorbing calcium, so you should limit the rich foods.
When physical activity occurs, calcium and phosphorus accumulate in those areas of the skeletal system that bear the load - thus the bones are strengthened. Therefore, the baby needs regular activity in the form of gymnastics, massage, swimming and even just turning over from back to tummy or crawling.
Regular stay outside in sunny weather
It’s not necessary for a child to be in the open sun, it’s enough to walk in the shade - he will still receive the necessary amount of UV light. But the time of day matters: the most useful light waves emitted early in the morning and at sunset.
Treatment of diseases that caused the appearance of rickets
If the disease has developed due to climatic conditions (lack of sunlight), UV irradiation procedures are carried out.
Rickets, healed at the initial stage, will not leave behind any traces, and the child will be able to develop normally further. After rickets of the 2nd stage, there are often consequences such as problems with teeth, lagging in the development of motility and motor activity. A kid can much later acquire the ability to sit, walk, perform the movements usual for his age. With treatment over time, these disorders may disappear completely. But if there were deformations of the skeleton and internal organs, the effects of rickets can remain for a lifetime. This is a curvature of the spine, chest, limbs, pelvis (which is especially dangerous for girls, as it leads to difficulties in childbirth in the future), disruption of the internal organs, flat feet.
Prevention of rickets
In order to prevent the occurrence of the disease, it is necessary to begin the prevention of rickets long before the baby is born. A large amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, foods high in calcium, vitamins and phosphorus should be present in the diet of the future mother. It is necessary to spend a lot of time in the fresh air, preferably in sunny weather. In the last months of carrying a fetus, doctors often prescribe an additional use of vitamin D.
As for the prevention of rickets in the postnatal period, the child needs the following conditions:
- quality nutrition enriched with vitamin D and other vitamins, minerals and trace elements. As mentioned above, preferably natural breast milk;
- walks on sunny days, hardening, physical activity;
- daily regime;
- use of vitamin D in prophylactic doses (usually 400 IU per day) from late autumn to early spring, especially when living in the northern regions.
Although in many cases it is quite easy to prevent the development of rickets - it is enough just to correct the lifestyle a little - in the advanced stages this disease can entail very serious violations. Therefore, since the period of pregnancy, it is important to ensure that the child receives all the necessary resources for its development. When the symptoms of rickets occur, you should not postpone the visit to the doctor, because the earlier the development of the disease is stopped, the less the likelihood of complications.