November 12, 2010
More than 20% of children tested for bone problems in Southampton showed signs of the crippling disease rickets, a health trust has revealed.
Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Prof Nicholas Clarke checked more than 200 of the city’s children for bone problems caused by a lack of vitamin D.
He was astonished by the results, which, he said, were “very reminiscent of 17th Century England”.
The disease can lead to deformities like bowed legs as well stunted growth.
Prof Clarke, based at Southampton General Hospital, said vitamin D supplements should be more widely adopted to halt the rise in cases.
The Department of Health said it would review the evidence.
‘Middle class and leafy’
A lack of vitamin D can be caused by poor diets and insufficient exposure to sunlight, which helps the body synthesise the vitamin.
“A lot of the children we have seen have got low vitamin D and require treatment,” he said.
“In my 22 years at Southampton General Hospital, this is a completely new occurrence in the south that has evolved over the last 12 to 24 months and we are seeing cases across the board, from areas of deprivation up to the middle classes