The risk for scurvy in children with neurodevelopmental disorders

Spec Care Dentist. 2020 May;40(3):251-259. doi: 10.1111/scd.12459. Epub 2020 Apr 24.


Background: Scurvy, the disease resulting from vitamin C deficiency, is perceived as being rare and occurring predominantly in the past. However, scurvy continues to exist and may be encountered in children with medical/developmental conditions and/or restricted diet. Diagnosis can be challenging given the perceived rarity of the condition and nonspecific symptoms, including gingival disease.

Methods: We present a series of two cases of scurvy in which the affected children presented to medical attention with dental complaints. Additional cases of scurvy are described, based on the literature review of case reports/series published in the last 10 years.

Results: Literature review yielded 77 relevant case reports published in the English language since 2009. Most affected children had a previous diagnosis of a medical or developmental condition (especially autism spectrum disorder). Intraoral features (gingival swelling, pain, and bleeding) were noted in most of the identified cases of scurvy. Improvement in the oral features of scurvy occurred within days of vitamin C therapy initiation.

Conclusions: Recognizing classic signs and symptoms of scurvy enables prompt diagnosis and avoids invasive investigations. Dentists may be in a unique position to facilitate prompt and accurate diagnosis of a condition that is relatively easy and safe to treat once identified.

Keywords: micronutrient deficiency; neurodevelopmental disorders; pediatric scurvy; vitamin C.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Child
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Gingival Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Scurvy*


  • Ascorbic Acid