Rickets in the Dairy State

WMJ. 2004;103(5):84-7.


Background: Nutritional vitamin D deficiency rickets occurs when children do not receive adequate vitamin D, which can be obtained from diet or manufactured in the skin when there is adequate sun exposure. A number of reports have described cases of vitamin D deficiency rickets in breastfed infants, but the public health significance of this problem in Wisconsin is unknown.

Objectives: Our objectives were to identify cases of vitamin D deficiency rickets in Wisconsin infants and to determine the percentage of these infants participating in the Wisconsin Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program.

Methods: All cases of rickets due to nutritional vitamin D deficiency seen at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin or its associated outpatient clinics were identified by retrospective chart review. Data collected included date of birth, age at presentation, race, clinical presentation, diet history, history of vitamin supplementation, x-ray findings, and biochemical studies. The children with nutritional vitamin D deficiency rickets were cross-referenced with the Wisconsin WIC database.

Results: Fifty-one definite cases of nutritional vitamin D deficiency rickets were identified. Skeletal deformities, failure to thrive, fractures, seizures, incidental lab finding, tetany, and refusal to walk were the most common reasons for identifying rickets. All of the children were breastfed and did not receive vitamin supplementation. The infants had a mean age of 13.6 months and 46 (90%) were African American. Thirty-seven out of 51 children (73%) were enrolled in the Wisconsin WIC program.

Conclusion: Vitamin D deficiency nutritional rickets is an important public health problem in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin WIC program may be an important site for intervention strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rickets / epidemiology*
  • Rickets / ethnology
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology