Deformed Thorax and Curved Spine

This specimen shows the deformed thorax and curved spine of a child suffering from rickets.

Please note that this page includes images of human remains.

Specimen showing a deformed thorax and curved spine

Rickets is a condition affecting bone development in children that causes bones to become soft and weak, leading to deformities. It frequently leads to curvature of the spine (seen in this specimen), bowed legs, and thickening of the ankles, wrists, and knees. Children with rickets are also at higher risk of suffering fractures. 

The most common cause of rickets is a lack of vitamin D or calcium. Children with darker skin have a higher risk of developing rickets as they must spend more time in the sun than children with lighter skin to get the same amount of vitamin D. Although very common in the Victorian period, cases of rickets have decreased significantly in the developed world since the 1940s, partly due to the fortification of foods with vitamin D. However, it remains a common childhood disease in areas of the world where children suffer from malnutrition early in their lives. 

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