Diagnosis

During the exam, the doctor will gently press on your child's bones, checking for abnormalities. He or she will pay particular attention to your child's:

  • Skull. Babies who have rickets often have softer skull bones and might have a delay in the closure of the soft spots (fontanels).
  • Legs. While even healthy toddlers are a little bowlegged, an exaggerated bowing of the legs is common with rickets.
  • Chest. Some children with rickets develop abnormalities in their rib cages, which can flatten and cause their breastbones to protrude.
  • Wrists and ankles. Children who have rickets often have wrists and ankles that are larger or thicker than normal.

X-rays of the affected bones can reveal bone deformities. Blood and urine tests can confirm a diagnosis of rickets and also monitor the progress of treatment.

Treatment

Most cases of rickets can be treated with vitamin D and calcium supplements. Follow your child's doctor's directions as to dosage. Too much vitamin D can be harmful.

Your child's doctor will monitor your child's progress with X-rays and blood tests.

Surgical and other procedures

For some cases of bowlegs or spinal deformities, your doctor might suggest special bracing to position your child's body appropriately as the bones grow. More-severe skeletal deformities might require surgery.

Preparing for your appointment

You'll likely start by seeing your family doctor or a pediatrician. Depending on the cause of your child's symptoms, you might be referred to a specialist.

Here's information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

Before your appointment, make a list of:

  • Your child's symptoms, including any that might not seem related to the reason you made the appointment, and note when they started
  • Key personal information, including medications and supplements your child takes and whether anyone in your immediate family has had similar symptoms
  • Information about your child's diet, including food and drink he or she usually consumes

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor might ask some of the following questions:

  • How often does your child play outdoors?
  • Does your child always wear sunscreen?
  • At what age did your child start walking?
  • Has your child had much tooth decay?
May 24, 2016
References
  1. Rickets. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00577. Accessed March 21, 2016.
  2. Carpenter T. Overview of rickets in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 21, 2016.
  3. Carpenter T. Etiology and treatment of calcipenic rickets in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 21, 2016.
  4. Elder CJ, et al. Rickets. The Lancet. 2014;383:1665.
  5. Misra M. Vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency in children and adolescents. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 21, 2016.
  6. Vitamin D. Office of Dietary Supplements. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-QuickFacts. Accessed March 23, 2016.
  7. Vitamin D supplementation for infants. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Vitamin-D-Supplementation-for-Infants.aspx. Accessed March 23, 2016.