A childhood disease usually associated with Victorian times could be making a comeback.
Rickets, a condition affecting bone development in children and causing bones to soften and malform, has been diagnosed in some children in Bradford as a campaign to educate people about the importance of vitamin D gets under way in the city.
Shirley Brierley, consultant in public health for NHS Bradford and Airedale, said there is national concern over the re-emergence of rickets in Bradford and other cities in the UK.
“I think we know that we have a number of children every year with rickets and we know although those numbers are really small, we should not be seeing any children with rickets,” she said.
“It used to be a problem in the 1940s and ’50s. There was a big campaign in the ’60s with vitamin supplements and it reduced, but in Bradford and other areas around the country there seems to be more children and teenagers and adults presenting with it.”
Often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because most of the vitamin D we need is from sunlight on our skin, vitamin D helps to control the amount of calcium we absorb from our diets and is important to maintain healthy and strong bones. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are: l generalised aches and pains in the bones; l delayed walking in children; muscle weakness; knock knees or bowed legs.
l Fitting and hypotonia, floppiness, is another way it can present in young children.
During vitamin D awareness week, a series of events will be held in parts of the Bradford district where people are particularly at risk.
Mrs Brierley said: “We know in Bradford there are a lot of older people, younger people, babies and pregnant mums who are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. We have done a lot of work to increase awareness in the population so that is why we developed the leaflets, lots of posters and do a lot of publicity to encourage people to think about it.”
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Airedale NHS Foundation Trust offer all pregnant women Healthy Start vitamins to last throughout pregnancy.
Events educating people about vitamin D take place from noon to 1.30pm at the African Caribbean lunch at St Paul’s, Manningham, on Wednesday; the Live at Home project coffee morning, Salvation Army Hall, Holroyd Hill, Wibsey, from 9am to 11am on Monday, February 25; Lower Grange Community Centre, Chaffinch Road, Lower Grange, Bradford, from 12.30pm until 2.30pm on Wednesday, February 27, and from 11am to 2pm at BEAP (Bangladeshi Community Centre) in Cornwall Place, Manningham, on Thursday, February 28.