The Symptoms of Rickets - Rachitis

At first, profuse perspiration, especially of the head; feverishness at night, with disposition to kick off the clothes; tenderness of the whole surface of the body; child dreads to be touched; excessive quantity of urine, with copious deposits; child has an old, careworn look; eyes unnaturally brilliant; soon head enlarges; long bones become curved and the joints enlarged, as seen in wrists and ankles; curvature of the spine; teeth slow in coming; abdomen large and tumid; head flattened on top; bad smelling bowel discharges; capricious appetite.

In addition to the above long list of symptoms the child may suffer with a variety of others arising from bronchitis, acute or chronic pleurisy, enlargement of the spine and liver, hydrocephalus, convulsions, diarrhea, and spasmodic croup. When no teeth appear before the ninth month, the child should be carefully examined, as there are grave grounds for suspicion of rickets. When improvement does not occur, all the symptoms given above increase until death takes place from exhaustion. When improvement does occur, under proper treatment or changed conditions, the enlarged joints become smaller, but the curvatures of the spine and limbs are not corrected. The muscles generally undergo changes which render them weak and feeble, so that the children are often unable to use them, although they may still retain considerable size. This difficulty can be but partly overcome in advanced cases.

The Causes of Rickets - Rachitis

The chief causes of rickets are improper food, bad air, and a general lack of proper care. The use of food which does not contain a sufficient supply of phosphates and other organic elements, on the part of the mother, is one of the predisposing causes. This may affect the child not only before birth, but after birth, through nursing. The affection is to be attributed to the use of superfine flour bread, more than to any other one cause. In order to prevent its occurrence, expectant mothers should make free use of oatmeal, graham, and other whole-grain preparations. The same principle applies to the diet of children after they have been weaned. Little, if any benefit can be expected from the use of phosphates as they are generally administered in medicine. Ground malt, maltine, and Trommer's Extract of Malt, are useful nutritive medicines, as they present the phosphates in a natural condition. Every possible measure should be employed to improve the general health of the patient, by means of daily sponge baths and friction to the whole surface of the body, out-door exercise, sun baths, etc. Particular attention should be given to keeping the stomach and bowels in good condition. Electricity is a valuable tonic agent, and may be used in all cases with good advantage.