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Children’s health and parenting :
Rickets / Paediatric Osteomalacia

Rickets, a childhood disease characterized by impeded growth, and deformity, of the long bones. Osteomalacia is a term for the softening of the bones due to defective bone mineralization.

 

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1. Is Osteomalacia different from rickets?

Rickets and osteomalacia though similar in many respects are also dissimilar in a few. Rickets and osteomalacia are different manifestations of the same underlying pathologic process, depending on whether the patient is a child or an adult. Rickets is a disease of childhood, while osteomalacia (softening of bones) is of adult life. The former is present while bones are being constructed, while the latter is only found after bones are formed. The demarcation is made at the time of closure of the growth plates.

2. How different is osteoporosis from osteomalacia?

Osteoporosis differs from osteomalacia in several aspects. Osteoporosis is a disorder in which there is little bone meaning that for the volume of bone, it contains the correct amount of calcium and phosphorus, but there is too little of it. In osteomalacia however, the amount of bone may be normal, but there is less mineral in the bone. Osteoporosis is an asymptomatic disease until there is fracture, while there are usually symptoms with osteomalacia like aching bones. The treatment for osteoporosis and osteomalacia are also different.

3. How much exposure to sun is beneficial in preventing the disease?

In tropical countries, like India, exposure to sun is rarely a concern. In temperate countries however, exposure of the child for just 2 or 3 hours to the sun is sufficient enough.

4. Which specialist should I see to treat rickets?

You should see a General Physician, Paediatrician or an Orthopaedic Surgeon if surgery is required to correct any deformities.

5. How soon does a child show symptoms of rickets? Is there any regular screening that can be done to identify the condition?

If your child shows a tendency for bow legs or other physical deformities, you should take your child to a Paediatrician for a check-up. Simple routine physical examinations are adequate enough to identify the condition at an early stage.




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