We Are Sunshine

Sun Scare Fuels Rickets Epidemic

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Almost half of the 54,000 children who received check-ups at a Vietnamese nutrition clinic last year were afflicted with rickets because health authorities and parents have advised parents to keep their children out of the sun, a Vietnamese news service reported this week.

“According to statistics of the National Institute of Nutrition, 29.3 per cent of under-five-year-old children who received check-ups at the institute in 2007 suffered from rickets, a disease in which bone tissues don’t properly mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities. At that time, about 100 children were seen at the institute each day,” Viet Nam Net reported last week. “By last year, the percentage reached 45.5 per cent, with 150 children receiving check-ups at the institute daily.”

The news agency quoted two women who kept their children out of the sun to avoid sun damage. Both of their children developed rickets. “Now I regret my actions after doctors informed me my son has rickets and poorly shaped legs because of his lack of exposure to the sun,” Nguyen Ha My, a mother from the northern port city of Hai Phong, told the news bureau.

According to the report, “Tran Thi Thu Huyen, a mother from Ha Noi’s Hoan Kiem District, said that her three-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with rickets which made her grow slowly and distorted the shape of her legs. Huyen said she often made her daughter stay inside because she was afraid the little girl would be sick if she went out too much.”

The report continued, “Phan Bich Nga, a doctor from the National Institute of Nutrition, said a growing number of children were suffering from rickets because of old customs which called for children to stay out of the sun to avoid falling sick. Many parents have recently taken to keeping their children from sitting in the sun due to the abnormal weather. ‘It’s unfortunate that our country is tropical and has lots of sunshine but still has a high number of children with rickets due because their parents lack scientific knowledge,’ she said.”

The Sunlight Institute, which promotes sunlight exposure as the most natural source of vitamin D, posted the report on its web page blog. “Talk about the horrors of staying out of the sunlight! Can you imagine that 45.5% of children that go to a clinic for checkups have rickets?,” Sunlight Institute founder Dr. Marc Sorenson said. “Keeping children out of the sun should be a punishable crime.”

To read the report, linked from the Sunlight Institute’s web site, click here.