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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Dear Dr Cannell: Abuse or rickets?

Dear Dr. Cannell:

I read your article on child abuse and rickets and I am definitely willing to speak out. This is what happened to my daughter… My now 10-month-old daughter and my one year old have been out of my care for 8 months now. My youngest was taken away from me at only 2 months old. This all happened when one day my youngest daughter got sick. She was completely normal then all of a sudden, she started choking and became lethargic which feeding. We took her to the hospital and the doctors didn’t know what was wrong. After X-rays, a spinal tap, blood tests, urine tests, and a CT scan, the only thing they found was elevated liver enzymes.

She was transferred to another hospital and started having seizures. She was monitored, and had an MRI done which showed a small brain bleed. We were told that it could not happen from any inflicted trauma, because for that to happen it had to be severe trauma to cause this bleed, but she had no bruises or ever a scratch on her. We would never hurt our child.

After a week or so, the doctors informed us that they were going to call CPS because they found fractures ribs on my daughter. First, they said it was possible they found one, then it was they found two, then three, then definitely four. They were callused and healing, I looked it up and it says they take 12-14 days to start callusing so they can be viewed on X-ray. My daughter had been in the hospital for 5-6 weeks at the time this occurred. I even asked several times for the doctors to do a simple vitamin D test for Rickets while we were in the hospital, and I was denied each time.

While going through the CPS process, one expert is convinced it is child abuse, and the other is convinced it is indeed rickets, because of the bucket fractures and the fact that my vitamin D was severely low. Also, we live in a climate that is foggy all the time, so I was always inside throughout my pregnancy, did not get much sunlight. My child’s symptoms included unexplained seizures, an unexplained brain bleed with no bruises or signs of trauma, unexplained rib fractures with no pain to the child (we did not even know about the fractures until the last 4 days we were in the hospital, we stayed by her bedside for almost 6 weeks)

In the reports, I have seen that my daughter has been supplemented with formula…she was breastfed before. They finally granted me a vitamin D test for my daughter 6 months later…and my lawyer informed me that our expert said that an infant’s vitamin D levels will rise in that time if supplemented which is what happened…Now, I have no proof of this except my word.

After almost 8 months of battling CPS, my children are still in foster care. My fiancé has been the only one keeping me from falling apart. We both have been going to visitation 3 days a week, working at our jobs, psych evaluations, counseling, therapy…We are cooperative because we NEED OUR CHILDREN HOME WITH US! I never heard of Rickets before my all of this happened, but I believe strongly that this is what happened.

I am devastated, because my fiancé…who has been holding me together was arrested yesterday because the courts want to pin child abuse on him…We love our daughters with all our heart, neither my husband or myself would EVER hurt our kids. My fiancé is ready to plead guilty just because he does not want the court to prosecute me as well, which would leave our children in foster care.

BUT I do NOT want that to happen. I have tried to do the right thing and so has my fiancé. But now we NEED HELP! I will speak out against this if you give me the chance…PLEASE let me. I need my family back; we have been ripped apart for almost a year now. We missed the first year of our youngest daughter’s life, and my oldest is only 2. We lost time we can never get back, and we want our family back.

Can you help us?

Jane

Dear Jane:

I am so sorry. I will send you the name of a radiologist that specializes in these cases. I have been in contact with a BBC reporter who promises to do a story but nothing yet. Tell your fiancé to hold on and not plead guilty to something he did not do.

Below is the story of another tragic case. Many have already seen this article and heard the story. The hospital let one of the children die from severe vitamin D deficiency, but the parents have just gotten their other child back. However, in this case, it was only the fact that one child died and came under the “care” of a pathologist that the diagnosis of rickets was made.

Boseley S and Butler P. Baby Jayden case renews concerns over rickets and ‘child abuse’ allegations. Fears grow that rising levels of vitamin-D deficiency may be leading to more cases of rickets being misdiagnosed as child abuse. Guardian, Friday 20 April 2012 14.34 EDT

The problem in this country and in Britain is that a whole generation of radiologists has no experience with rickets and thinks every broken bone is abuse. By the way, the bleed in the brain is not uncommon in normal infants.

McNeely PD, Atkinson JD, Saigal G, O’Gorman AM, Farmer JP. Subdural hematomas in infants with benign enlargement of the subarachnoid spaces are not pathognomonic for child abuse. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2006 Sep;27(8):1725-8.

I will forward your story on to the reporter. If you have a similar story, or know someone who does, the BBC’s reporter is Jenny Hill and her email is jenny[dot]hill[at]bbc[dot]co[dot]uk. And don’t let your fiancé’ do anything rash — like pleading guilty — to get the kids back.

John Cannell, MD

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.