Rickets: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 7/1/2020

Rickets is a term that describes a disruption of normal bone formation in infants and children.

Signs and symptoms of rickets can include

  • marked bending and distortion of bones,
  • softness of the infant's skull (craniotabes),
  • enlargement of the front end of the ribs,
  • thickening of the wrists and ankles,
  • abnormal curvature of the spine (scoliosis), and
  • deforming and narrowing of the pelvis.

As the affected child learns to walk, the weight on the soft shafts of the legs results in visible deformity such as knock-knees or bowlegs.

Causes of rickets

A deficiency of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, typically causes rickets; the result is a weakening and softening of the developing bones. Any cause of vitamin D deficiency, left untreated, may cause rickets.

Other rickets symptoms and signs

  • Abnormal Curvature of the Spine (Scoliosis)
  • Bowlegs or Knock-Knees
  • Deforming and Narrowing of the Pelvis
  • Enlargement of the Front End of the Ribs
  • Marked Bending and Distortion of Bones
  • Softness of the Infant's Skull (Craniotabes)
  • Thickening of the Wrists and Ankles

Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.