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.

More Information

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.

If your child has a rare inherited disorder that causes low amounts of phosphorus, supplements and medication may be prescribed.

For some cases of bowleg 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.

Clinical trials

Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease.

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 drinks 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 14, 2019
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  3. Carpenter T. Etiology and treatment of calcipenic rickets in children. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 19, 2019.
  4. Misra M. Vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency in children and adolescents. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 19, 2019.
  5. Vitamin D. Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/. Accessed March 22, 2019.
  6. Shaw NJ. Prevention and treatment of nutritional rickets. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 2016;164:145.
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  8. Breastfeeding. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/vitamin-d.html. Accessed March 19, 2019.
  9. AskMayoExpert. Vitamin D deficiency. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2019.
  10. Ferri FF. Rickets. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2019. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 22, 2019.
  11. X-linked hypophosphatemia. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/12943/x-linked-hypophosphatemia. Accessed April 1, 2019.
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