If the child does not have enough calcium in the blood, the bones will not be strong enough. Leg bones are bent (usually outward) under the weight of the baby and the legs are deformed. This is called rickets, which is commonly seen between the first and second year of life.
The main cause of calcium deficiency is the lack of vitamin D, or less frequent, insufficient calcium in food. Insufficient sunlight, by which the body produces some vitamin D, sometimes contributes to this deficiency. (Equivalent to rickets in adults is osteomalacia).
Rickets was a fairly common illness due to the large number of poorly fed children. It is very rare today. Babies are regularly given vitamins, and today almost all children eat enough mixed food that gives them sufficient amounts of vitamin D and calcium. They get enough sun. Danger threatens to only a small percentage of children who are fed with monotonous food. In addition, black people are more at risk because the dark skin absorbs a small amount of sunlight.
Your doctor will advise you on balanced diet for your baby with daily vitamin D supplements (in tablets or liquids) and large amounts of calcium, usually in milk. Do not give your child excessive amounts of vitamin D because they can be harmful. With such measures bones are getting stronger and a child will develop normally, unless pronounced deformation have already occurred. In rare cases of noticeably deformed legs, surgical procedures will be required to correct the deficiency. The results of the operations are usually very good, so the improvement is considerable.