Nutritional, racial, cultural, and environmental factors have combined to produce a resurgence of vitamin D deficiency rickets in urban Philadelphia. Between January 1974 and June 1978, 24 cases were diagnosed at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Patients' ages ranged from 4 to 58 months. Presenting complaints included seizures, swollen wrists, pathologic fractures, and developmental regression. Sixteen patients were below the third percentile for length and weight. Laboratory results indicated vitamin D deficiency in nursing mothers as well as in infants. All infants had been breast-fed and all were black. Ingestion of vitamin D was limited by exclusion of meat and/or dairy products in 21, and no infants had consistently taken supplemental vitamins. Nineteen were members of Muslim or Seventh Day Adventist faiths. Endogenous synthesis of vitamin D was limited by dark skin, by dressing in long garments with hoods and veils, and by air pollution in a densely populated northern city. The return to a more "natural" diet, free of food additives, has been accompanied by the return of a classic disease of industrial society. Effective management required patience and respect for religious convictions. With treatment, there was correction of chemical and skeletal abnormalities, but few patients showed catch-up growth.

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