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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging pediatricians to be on the lookout for Rickets.
Rickets, an old childhood disease that doctors thought they had beaten, is making a comeback.
The Slaughter family knows that when it comes to genetics, the dominoes fall where they may.
Cliff, the family father, is disabled by Rickets after being diagnosed as a toddler. His son is fine, but his twin daughters got the same diagnosis.
“They were two years old, and they weren’t walking yet, so we took them in to get checked,” said mother Tonya Slaughter.
Rickets causes soft, weak bones and can lead to other problems.
Medicine helped Kaitlyn but did not do enough for Laura.
“I feel bad for her, that she has it worse than me,” said Kaitlyn.
Laura said it’s mostly a problem around her knees.
Tonya said the girls join Race For The Cure each year, but it was difficult for Laura this year.
“She couldn’t hardly finish it,” Tonya said. “I knew something was wrong then, and I called the doctor and got her in there, and he said it needs to be fixed.”
Recently, doctors operated and inserted metal rods in both of Laura’s legs.
They added circular braces that need tightening each day.
“They help to make my bones turn and make them straight,” Laura said.
While genetic Rickets is rare, Dr. Wendy Anderson-Willis at Nationwide Children’s Hospital said the old disease is coming back and is caused by a lack of Vitamin D.
Back when most Americans lived on farms, she said that children used to play outdoors in the sunlight and got their Vitamin D. Then, families moved into cities.
“Kids were developing Rickets at the time because of lack of sunlight,” Anderson-Willis said.
So she said people built playgrounds and kids drank milk. Rickets all but disappeared, but it’s now coming back.
“And now, with the technology revolution, kids have moved indoors,” the doctor said.
Playgrounds are often empty as kids stay inside with video games, and they skip milk for soda.
“Get your sunlight. Get your milk. Go back to basics. It’s really, really important,” Anderson-Willis said.
The Slaughter family knows how painful Rickets can be, but Laura has her eyes set on the future.
“My legs are going to be straight, and I’m going to be really happy, because I’ll get to go out more and do more stuff,” she said.
Friends are holding a fundraiser for Laura at Skyline Chili in south Columbus on Sept. 14.
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