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article imageRickets on the increase amongst British children

By Katerina Nikolas     Dec 16, 2011 in Health
The increase of rickets amongst British children is an alarming trend. The disease was eradicated in Britain during Victorian times, but is reemerging due to a lack of exposure to sunlight.
The centuries old scourge of rickets, largely eradicated in Britain during the nineteenth century, is increasing amongst British children. According to the Daily Mail the number of children experiencing the crippling disease has increased fivefold since 1997.
The primary cause of rickets is vitamin D deficiency caused by lack of exposure to sunlight, coupled with a poor diet that lacks calcium. Exposure to sunlight, fortification of milk with vitamin D, and an increase in cod liver oil, all contributed to a decline in rickets in Western countries, halting bone retardation and skeleton deformities which the disease inflicts.
The fear of skin cancer has resulted in parents smothering their children in sunscreen that can hinder the absorption of vitamin D. Many children shun playing outside in favor of television and computer games. The DM cites Gillian Killiner, of the British Dietetic Association saying "We have taken it for granted that skin cancer is the big one and overlooked the Vitamin D side. Children are covered up with sunblock, t-shirts and hats, and that can be important – but perhaps we’ve pushed it too far. We don’t have a lot of sun in this country, and in winter you are likely to be lacking in Vitamin D. If you haven’t built enough up over summer, that’s going to be a certainty."
There has also been an increase in rickets amongst the infants of Muslim women in Britain who wear the burka, according to Secularism UK. Lack of exposure to the sun prevents pregnant women receiving vital vitamin D, thus exposing the developing foetus to the deficiency.
Preventing rickets is a simple matter of ensuring an adequate intake of vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, a vitamin D supplement and a healthy diet rich in calcium.
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