Author(s): Siddiqui AM, Kamfar HZ
OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency rickets among female adolescents and assess its relation to calcium intake and sun exposure. METHODS: Four hundred and thirty-three school girls between 12-15 years old were selected randomly from different schools in Jeddah, between October 200--February 2004. We identified symptoms of rickets and determined the dietary habits and sun exposure habits, and laboratory investigations were also carried out. RESULTS: It was found that, out of 433 cases, 350 (81%) had low vitamin D levels. Approximately 40% had very low levels of vitamin D and 61% were asymptomatic. Most of the symptoms were non specific. There was a positive correlation between low calcium in the diet and less sun exposure to low levels of vitamin D. Approximately 96% had normal serum phosphate, 89% had normal serum calcium, and 40% had normal serum alkaline phosphatase levels. CONCLUSION: Vitamin D deficiency is common among adolescent females in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Cases are missed due to lack of symptoms in most cases and normal bone chemistry. Serum vitamin D level should be carried out in suspected cases. Health and nutritional education should be encouraged in schools. Focusing on the importance of adequate milk intake and sun exposure should be given a priority in any health education program.