What Causes Rickets and Osteomalacia?

The most common cause of rickets and osteomalacia is vitamin D deficiency (not enough vitamin D). Usually, this is due to diets without enough vitamin D. Some medical conditions, such as celiac disease, can affect how a child’s body absorbs vitamin D from food. In a few cases, rickets is the result of rare genetic conditions which affect how the body uses vitamin D or phosphate.

Osteomalacia is also usually due to vitamin D deficiency or difficulty absorbing or using vitamin D correctly. Like rickets, it can also be due to rare genetic conditions.

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Rev. 11/2019. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.