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Scurvy and other Vitamin C deficiency : Causes, signs and treatment

BY: Deena David | Category: Food and Drinks | Post Date: 2009-09-05

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   Deena David
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Vitamin C is called as Ascorbic acid. In many countries, Vitamin C deficiency has disappeared due to healthy and balanced eating habits. In certain countries though, there are many instances of Vitamin C deficiency.

Causes of Vitamin C deficiency:

1. Primary Protein Energy malnutrition
2. Secondary Protein Energy malnutrition
3. Exclusively artificially fed infants
4. Breast fed infants born to mothers with Vitamin C deficiency.
5. Infections that require increased Vitamin C.

Signs and Features of Vitamin C deficiency:

Though Scurvy which is the most important and common complication of Vitamin C deficiency occurs between the age of six months and two years, it can occur at other ages also.

Infantile Scurvy: The child is irritable, and cries excessively. The lower limbs especially are tender to touch. The child usually adopts to a position that is ‘frog like'. The legs are bent at the knees and the hip joint is externally rotated. This looks like a false paralysis.

There can be bleeding in the bone of the thigh(femur). This again prevents movement of the leg (because of pain) and creates the impression of paralysis. There can also be bleeding under the skin and in the mucous membranes.

Other signs of scurvy that occurs due to Vitamin C deficiency are haemorrage in the gums that leads to spongy,swollen,bluish purple gums. There can be loss of blood in the internal organs that can lead to various complications like hematuria (blood in urine), malena and subdural swellings. Due to this loss of blood, there can be mild to moderate anemia.

Diagnosing the Vitamin C deficiency

There are various methods of identifying Vitamin C deficiency. Common methods are the following investigations:
1. Level of ascorbic level in the serum and in the urine.
2. X ray changes that can be seen in the bones of the lower part of the femur and in the upper part of the tibia and fibula.

Treatment of Vitamin C deficiency:

The treatment of Vitamin C deficiency is by giving a loading dose of 500 mg of Vitamin C followed by a daily dose of 100 to 300 mg for several weeks. Oral administration of this Vitamin C is enough.

Adequate improvement in the children can be seen within 24 to 48 hours. Improvement in the X ray changes can be seen in about a weeks time. The hemorrhages may take a longer time to disappear completely.

Prevention of Vitamin C deficiency

Mothers should be encouraged to breast feed the babies. Supplements of Vitamin C should be included in the diet of babies. This is especially very important for the babies who are fed artificial foods. The mothers should not boil the fruit juices as the Vitamins are lost on boiling.

Lactating mothers should include adequate amounts of Vitamin C in their diet. This will increase the amount of Vitamin C that is taken in by the baby. This will help in preventing Vitamin C deficiency.

Children who are a little grown can be encouraged to eat food that is rich in Vitamin C. These include guava, tomato, orange, lemon, peas, beans etc. Regular intake of these fruits can also help to decrease or prevent Vitamin C deficiency.

Article Source: http://www.saching.com

About Author / Additional Info: I have completed my Masters Degree in Paediatric Nursing. I am a writer with a passion for writing. I have been writing for some blogs and other sites. Comments are welcome at the following e mail address: deenaanddavid@gmail.com

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