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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 19:45 GMT
Rickets cases rise among Asians
Leg bones
Rickets weakens the bones
Vitamin supplements are to be handed out in Lancashire after 56 reported cases of rickets.

The cases of the disease, which can cause bow legs, have been reported in Asian communities in East Lancashire.

Rickets is caused by a deficiency of vitamin D by a lack of sunlight or a poor diet.

Experts say that cultural and genetic factors play a part in the disease. The wearing of the hijab and darker skin both reduce sunlight absorption.

Rickets thrived in the Victorian slums, but experts say that poverty is not usually a factor in modern cases.

The 56 cases were reported over a two-year period in a study by the East Lancashire Primary Care Trust (PCT).

Sun exposure

Craig Oates, director of development and engagement at Blackburn with Darwen PCT, said: "We need vitamin D to prevent rickets and because of cultural issues primarily people are not getting enough sunlight.

"If you are covering up most of your skin and you're not being exposed to sunlight then you're going to have a vitamin D deficiency.

"Working with the local community, we hope that will change."

Toddlers, pregnant women and teenage girls are to be targeted with vitamin D supplements by the PCT to reduce cases of the disease.

Vitamin D deficiencies can also cause osteoporosis in later life.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Craig Oates speaks about rickets in Lancashire



SEE ALSO
Rickets rises among city's young
26 Jun 06 |  Bradford
Vitamins target rickets outbreak
05 Oct 05 |  Bristol/Somerset

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