The childhood disease of rickets has made a return to Britain as children are not getting enough Vitamin D. The disease softens the bones and can cause deformities such as bow legs or chest and pelvis abnormalities, which in turn may require corrective surgery. It was rife in Victorian times, when it was potentially fatal, but it had been virtually wiped out by the second half of last century, largely as a result of improved post-war diet. However, official figures show that the incidence of rickets has risen five-fold over the last 15 years. This rise has been put down to the fact that children today who spend most of their time indoors do not get sufficient sunlight and do not consume enough milk and dairy products. These are the main sources of vitamin D, which protects against the bone condition and up to 25 per cent of British children receive too little.
Experts say hundreds of children are developing the disease every year and England’s Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has called for a universal handout of vitamin supplements to all children under five to help combat the disease.