Rickets Returns

At least they\’re not trying to cover up (sorry) the cause here:

Rickets, a softening of bone tissue often characterised by bowed legs, is caused by a vitamin D deficiency and was associated with Victorian slums. But a study found that there were 56 suspected cases between 2003 and 2005 in the catchment area of two primary care trusts that cover Blackburn with Darwen and Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, in Lancashire. A large proportion of the cases came from the Asian community of Blackburn with Darwen.

Public health officials say that the problem is genetic and cultural. The religious imperative to use a hijab to cover up in public means that some women are not exposed to enough sunlight. Dr Ellis Friedman, the director of public health for East Lancashire, said rickets “is caused by a combination of skin colouration, diet and dress, not poverty”.

There\’s a reason why us adapted to northern climes have pale skin: yes, it makes us more liable to skin cancer, but less so to rickets. Add in, as they say, the covering up and….well, the usual "cure" for rickets is to drink milk isn\’t it? Something not part of the traditional South Asian diet?

5 thoughts on “Rickets Returns”

  1. By reports – since I’ve no medical or dietary expertise – vitamin D deficiency is linked with several nasty ailments besides rickets:

    “Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphate from food and is essential in the formation of bones and teeth. A deficiency of vitamin D leads to a failure of the bones to grow and causes rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.

    “Recent studies on animals (and some human surveys) have also suggested that it might have an effect in reducing the following cancers:

    – breast
    – colon
    – prostate

    “Vitamin D is now believed to play an important role in regulating the production of cells, this control is missing in cancer.”

    The problem of deficiency evidently goes far wider than just among ethnic Asians in the population:

    “A study of middle aged British adults showed that the majority, 60%, have hypovitaminosis D [less than optimal levels of vitamin D], and 90% have less than optimal levels during winter and spring.

    “Previously hypovitaminosis D has been considered to be a public health problem that affects mainly ethnic minority groups living in Britain, but the current study shows that the problem is very real also among the Caucasian population.

    “Participants living in Scotland were twice as likely to have low vitamin D concentrations compared to others.”

    Regulatory measures to abate vitamin D deficiency were applied long ago by making the fortification of margarine mandatory. However:

    “In the UK, milk is not fortified with vitamin D unlike in many other countries. Only vitamin D fortification of margarine is mandatory, but the fortification is only aiming to return vitamin D concentrations to the level naturally present in butter. In this study, consumption of vitamin D fortified margarine had only some influence in the extreme state of deficiency, while it had no effect on average concentrations.”

  2. Another post with useful links has disappeared.

    Tim adds: Bob, if you put that many links in it then it will go into the spam filter. Please, just use fewer links!

  3. “well, the usual “cure” for rickets is to drink milk isn’t it? Something not part of the traditional South Asian diet?”

    No, but yoghurt is and that is full of Vitamin D.

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