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24
Jan 2014
Rickets soar as children stay indoors
Rickets soar as children stay indoors: Number diagnosed with disease quadruples in last ten years New figures from the NHS show there were 833 hospital admissions Ten years earlier the figure was just 190 The disease, which causes brittle bones and deformities, was common in 19th century Britain By Daily Mail Reporter PUBLISHED: 02:02, 22 January 2014 | UPDATED: 02:03, 22 January 2014 The number of children suffering from rickets – once associated with Victorian poverty – is on the rise, with a fourfold increase in sufferers in the last ten years. New figures from the NHS show there were 833 hospital admissions for children suffering from the condition which is caused by a lack of Vitamin D in the financial year 2012-13. Ten years earlier the figure was just 190. Some experts fear that parents obsessing about protecting their children from sunlight, which boosts the body’s level of the key vitamin, has led to the rise. It is also thought that children spending more time indoors on computer games, more parents driving their kids to school and fewer children taking cod liver oil capsules have all contributed to the rise. The disease, which causes brittle bones and deformities, was common in 19th century Britain but was all but wiped out by improvements in nutrition. Now it is thought that a fear of contracting skin cancer could be making parents too cautious and be partly responsible for the upsurge in Rickets. The body produces vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun and it can also be obtained by eating foods such as oily fish, eggs and liver. Gillian Killiner, director of 121 Dietitian, and a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, said: ‘There are several factors involved in the rise in rickets. ‘It was a problem disease in the 19th century but a number of things including diet with more dairy and protein, better health and the introduction of cod liver oil by the government in WWII, helped reduce it to very small numbers. ‘Now it is on the rise again partly because of a change in the quality of our diet and partly because of our aversion to sunlight, which has been caused by our justifiable concerns about skin cancer. The body produces vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun and it can also be obtained by eating foods such as oily fish, eggs and liver. The body produces vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun and it can also be obtained by eating foods such as oily fish, eggs and liver People now are eating much less oily fish, fewer dairy products and not supplementing. Kids are also eating more processed and junk food, while people whose bodies are obese find it much more difficult to access their vitamin D. In addition the skin cancer message has got home and people are aware of the dangers of burning. But perhaps things have gone too far as exposure to sunlight is the best way to absorb vitamin D and as little as 20 minutes per day of sun on your face and arms can be more than enough.’ She added that the babies of mothers already low in vitamin D were the children most as risk as they would have no way of boosting their levels. ‘There are now campaigns to get mothers to boost their vitamin D levels so that they can pass it on to their babies in their breast milk,’ she said. People with darker skin have more difficulty getting vitamin D from sunlight and so it is these people, often ethnic minorities, and their children who are more at risk of rickets. Professor Nicholas Clarke, said: ‘The data confirms our suspicions in relation to the epidemiology of vitamin D deficiency, particularly in our own paediatric orthopaedic clinic. There is no doubt that it is multifactorial both in terms of reduced exposure to sunshine, but also the tension between the dermatological advice in respect of sun screen and adequate sun exposure. ‘However, it should be remembered that vitamin D deficiency is utterly preventable and easily treated by minor supplements. ‘It is also important to note that the Chief Medical Officer has now advised that all children from the age of 6 months to 5 years should take vitamin D supplements in order to prevent deficiency and its effect on later health issues.’
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