Getting Enough Sun
Rachitis is an extremely wide-spread childhood disease. Sometimes this unpleasant word sounds like a diagnosis from a doctor. But, fortunately, we can prevent it.
It is extremely unwise to think that your child will avoid this disease. According to statistics, more than 70% of children suffer from rachitis during the first three years of life. This is a disease of growing bodies that is connected with a mineral metabolism disturbance, in particular with calcium and phosphorus. The active growth of a child during the first years of life under certain unfavorable conditions can lead to the improper formation of the skeleton and a disturbance of functions of the main organs and systems of the body. There are many predisposing factors which may
cause these unpleasant consequences: a problem pregnancy, bottle feeding of a child, climatic conditions or unfavorable ecology. There are certain diseases which may promote rachitis. They are: dysbacteriosis, prematurity or a large birthweight.
How do you recognize the enemy?
Rachitis can have light, middle and heavy forms. There are two main periods of this disease.
The first period of rachitis usually develops during the first six months of life and affects the central nervous system. Watch your child carefully: he may not sleep well, perspire too much or suffer from an itchy heat rash. Also, if your baby rubs his head against the pillow and you notice that there is less hair on the back of his head and the hair in front becomes softer, then most likely it is rachitis. In this period, blood analysis can show that the calcium level is still normal, but there is a lack of phosphorus.
The peak period ("flourishing" rachitis) also very often happens in the first six months as a result of the the child’s intensive growth. Be attentive: if your baby is less active than his contemporaries, if his muscles are dull and the rectus muscles of the stomach are separated when he sits – such signs are a strong motive to go to a doctor. The following symptoms are evident and it is impossible to hide them. It is unfortunate, but in the process of aggressive clinical behaviour, there can develop a rachitic hump which vanishes when a child stands. A child’s legs often become knock-kneed or bandy. You might also observe a flattening of the skull. In this stage of the disease, cranial bones can soften so that they become nonrigid and this can be felt even by gentle pressure with the fingers. The head of a baby changes its shape; parietal and frontal areas get bigger. The chest also strains under the influence of the disease. It may become tropeic (protrudent) or hollow (funnel). There can also be strongly protruding bones on the wrists and thickening of the fingers.
All the bone changes mentioned concern only the aesthetic side of life, but rachitic changes of the pelvic bones are a serious danger for growing girls.
A biochemical blood analysis made at the peak of the disease will show a significant decrease in calcium and phosphorus compared with the norm. A urinanalysis, on the contrary, can show an increased percentage of phosphorus. Such children usually suffer from anemia (decreased concentraton of hemoglobin in blood). Their livers and speens are enlarged. A doctor can recognize a systolic murmur in the heart. And unfortunately, there are always mental
and psychomotor retardations.
7 pieces of advice for mothers
It is necessary to begin preventive measures of rachitis during your pregnancy.
- A mother-to-be should eat correctly. In her diet, there should be sour milk products, curds, cheese, meat and fish.
- Walk outdoors more often, especially in the second half of pregnancy.
- According to doctor's recommendation, you should take vitamin D. Usually it is contained in multivitamins for pregnancy.
- From day of birth, take care of the correct daily regimen. You should be outdoors as often as possible. Air the rooms. Do exercises and get massages.
- Try to breast-feed your baby. Though breast milk contains little vitamin D, there are a lot of biologically active substances which can compensate for this shortage to a certain extent.
- When bottle-feeding a baby, it is necessary to select a formula together with the child's doctor. This formula should be closest to breast milk and contain 100% lactose which stimulates the absorption of calcium.
- Introduce other kinds of food at the proper time. Add to a child's diet eggyolk, butter and meat. Vegetables and fruits don't contain vitamin D at all.
Besides all this, it is necessary to treat your child with aqueous solution of vitamin D3 (naturally after the consultation with your doctor) from
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