Rickets rebound

You thought it went out with consumption, but rickets — the bone disease caused by a vitamin D deficiency — is making a comeback, according to a story in NGNEWS, the online service of National Geographic. Rickets was nearly wiped out in the 1930s, when the government required that vitamin D be added to milk. But now that more women are breast-feeding their babies and we’re all spending less time outdoors (sunlight is another important source of the vitamin), some breast-fed infants aren’t getting enough vitamin D. Most cases are turning up among dark-skinned children, because darker skin doesn’t absorb sunlight as well as lighter skin.

Doctors who reported the problem were quick to assure mothers they shouldn’t give up breast-feeding, but they do recommend that dark-skinned infants who are exclusively breast-fed should be given vitamin D supplements.