Rickets is a disease of growing children that affects how the growth plates of bones develop. Rickets can cause bowing of the legs and bone pain. It can also increase a child’s risk of fracture (broken bone).
Osteomalacia affects both children and adults and is a disease in which the bones don’t contain enough bone mineral (mostly calcium and phosphate). Like rickets, osteomalacia can cause bone pain and increase the risk of fracture.
These two conditions are closely linked – usually a child with rickets will also have osteomalacia.
The most common cause of rickets and osteomalacia is vitamin D deficiency (not enough vitamin D). Usually, this is due to:
The symptoms most commonly seen in rickets and osteomalacia are the direct result of how the condition affects bone development. Children with rickets can have bowing of the legs which worsens over time, wider wrists, and frontal bossing (an unusually prominent forehead). They also can have poor growth. Osteomalacia causes bone pain and can increase the risk of fracture.