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Experts See Increase in Ricketts Disease in Kids

When children play outside in the summer sun, they are getting more than just a dose of fun. Experts say kids' habits now are leading to the return of a disease that was prevalent years ago. KSMU’s Scott Butler reports.

According to Lynda Johnson, the nutrition and health education specialist at the University of Missouri Extension in Lafayette County, there has been an increase in Ricketts disease within the last ten years. Ricketts was a huge problem in the 1800’s due to pollution, coal fires and overcrowded towns that kept children from getting the sunshine they needed. Children these days are primarily watching TV or playing video games.

“Ricketts is a crippling disease where the bones are soft, primarily with children. And as they are growing, their bones aren’t strong enough to hold their weight. Therefore, they become bowed, their legs become bowed,” said Johnson.

Vitamin D is one of the key components for kids to have and maintain strong bones. A lack of Vitamin D can weaken bones, especially in children. The best way to consume Vitamin D is just a little sunshine.

“That’s why it’s so important for people to get out. Use a little sunscreen…it doesn’t take a lot of time to be outside and have your arms and legs and face exposed to the sun, and then you’re getting enough Vitamin D that way,” she said.

The use of sunscreen will help block off the fear of skin cancer. According to Johnson, reasonable amounts of exposure to the sun will help children reach a sufficient amount of Vitamin D.For KSMU News, I’m Scott Butler.