30 June 2006


Does Muslim Dress lead to Rickets?

Three stories in the Leicester Mercury over the last two days highlight the rise of rickets among people of South Asian origin. Dr Peter Swift, consultant paediatrician at Leicester Royal Infirmary said they are seeing one or two cases a month of children with severe bone deformities, and that "substantial numbers" of children have infantile and adolescent rickets. "I think there's still tremendous ignorance in Leicester about this very serious problem," he says.

The disorder, largely eradicated in the 1970s but prevalent in Victorian times, is largely caused by vitamin D deficiency, mainly because of a lack of sunlight. 90% of vitamin D is made in the body from sunlight and 10% comes from food, such as oily fish, fortified margarine, evaporated milk, eggs and fortified cereal.

The same problem has been recognised in Bradford, where every child under two will be offered free vitamin D to tackle the problem at a cost of £50,000. "The evidence is that something like 50% of Asian women in pregnancy are vitamin deficient." Many Muslim women are at higher risk, because traditional Islamic dress codes prevent their skin from getting enough sunlight.

Abdulkarim Gheewala of the Leicestershire Federation of Muslim Organisations said: "We always encourage women that they should be getting out for a walk and get enough sunshine ... When the dress becomes an issue ... it must be approached in a very sensitive way."

Imam Ibrahim Mogra says "I think it's important for Muslim women to get their fair share of sunshine and there is no reason why they should not do that in the confines of their own homes. You can enjoy the sunshine in your garden."

It is confirmed by friends in Indian Hopitals that rickets are more prevelent among muslim women families which use veil

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