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Outrage from medics at the return of Rickets as cases of the ‘Victorian’ disease rocket by 25% in Scotland with critics calling it a ‘symptom of state failure’


  • Rickets cases in Scotland rose 25 percent from 354 in 2018 to 442 in 2022
  • Scotland saw almost as many cases of rickets as the whole of England in 2022

It is a disease that is often associated with Victorian slums and is believed to be all but eradicated from modern society.

But figures show that rickets is on the rise in Scotland, with its prevalence exceeding that of England.

Cases have soared by 25 per cent from 354 in 2018 to 442 in 2022, almost matching the tally of 482 across England. NHS Greater Glasgow and the Clyde recorded 356 cases, with 83 in NHS Lanarkshire.

Rickets is caused by a lack of vitamin D, which is produced in the body through exposure to sunlight, something that is generally limited to the period between April and September in Scotland. Vitamin D is found naturally in only a few foods, such as oily fish, liver, and egg yolks.

One in six people have permanent very low levels, particularly those with darker skin, which processes sunlight less efficiently.

Rickets is caused by a lack of vitamin D, which is found naturally in only a few foods, including oily fish, liver, and egg yolks.

Recently retired Edinburgh GP Helga Rhein, from campaign group Scots Need Vitamin D, said: ‘How can this be in a modern, developed country?

‘It’s not good to blame poverty, it’s the public health system in Scotland to blame. All we do is check boxes. There is no effort to educate people on why vitamin D is so vital to so many areas of health, why deficiency is more common in Scotland, and to hand out supplements. They are so cheap and easily available.

“You could say that rickets is as much a symptom of state failure as it is of vitamin D deficiency.”

Vitamin D helps build strong bones. The link between it and rickets was discovered a century ago and helped put an end to the relatively common view of children, from both poor and wealthy backgrounds, growing up bowlegged.

The condition is often linked to the Victorian era, as it was rife in industrial cities where smog blocked sunlight.

Dr Chris Williams, from the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland, told the Sunday Times: “More needs to be done to protect low-income people from products that have low nutritional value or are likely to cause malnutrition if relied on them instead of consuming them.” healthier alternatives.

“Vulnerable individuals and communities who do not have sufficient access to fresh, nutritious food due to affordability or supply issues are at increased risk of rickets due to inadequate diet.”

Vitamin D is created in the body through exposure to sunlight, which is generally limited in Scotland between April and September.

Vitamin D is created in the body through exposure to sunlight, which is generally limited in Scotland between April and September.

Endocrinologist Dr Richard Quinton said: “The Scottish government advises vulnerable people to take vitamin D supplements, but there is no active program to promote the message in schools, nurseries, doctors’ practices or community centres.”

“Pre-school and primary school-age children in Scotland are routinely treated with sunscreen during the sunniest months, and this is known to block vitamin D photosynthesis.”

While parts of England enjoy over 1,500 hours of sunshine a year, most of Scotland gets fewer than 1,300. Children under three, as well as pregnant and lactating women, are entitled to free supplements.

A Scottish government spokesperson added: “We recognize the health benefits of maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D and recommend that everyone consider taking a daily supplement of 10 micrograms, especially during the winter months, to help maintain bone and muscle health. “.


Rickets is the lack of mineralization of cartilage in children, which causes the bones to bend and lose their shape.

The adult version, where the bones become weak, is known as osteomalacia.

Both are caused by the body’s inability to fix calcium, a process that requires vitamin D. Doctors in ancient Rome described children suffering from this debilitating condition, which can affect the limbs and spine and prove fatal. if it is serious But it was a common disease defined in Britain in the 17th century.

Doctors were curious to note that the victims tended to be from urban rather than rural areas, and rickets affected people from all walks of life, including royalty.

Sunlight and cod liver oil were found to help beat the condition, but the reason was only understood when vitamin D was discovered in 1919 as part of the search for a cure.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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