Osteomalacia epidemiology and demographics

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Osteomalacia Microchapters


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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief:


Osteomalacia is the softening of the bones caused by deactivated bone mineralization primarily due to inadequate levels of available phosphate and calcium, or because of resorption of calcium. Osteomalacia in children is known as rickets, and because of this, use of the term "osteomalacia" is often restricted to the milder, adult form of the disease. Signs and symptoms can include diffuse body pains, muscle weakness, and fragility of the bones.

Epidemiology and Demographics

Nursing home residents and the homebound elderly population are at particular risk for vitamin D deficiency, as these populations typically receive little sun exposure. In addition, both the efficiency of vitamin D synthesis in the skin and the absorption of vitamin D from the intestine decline with age, thus further increasing the risk in these populations. Other groups at risk include individuals with malabsorption secondary to gastrointestinal bypass surgery or celiac disease, and individuals who immigrate from warm climates to cold climates, especially women who wear traditional veils or dresses that prevent sun exposure.[1]


  1. Kennel, KA; Drake, MT; Hurley, DL (August 2010). "Vitamin D deficiency in adults: when to test and how to treat". Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 85 (8): 752–7, quiz 757-8. doi:10.4065/mcp.2010.0138. PMID 20675513.

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