Rickets and child abuse

The news has reported that a couple acquitted of murdering their baby are questioning doctors over misdiagnosis. The fractures to the baby’s skull were not a result of abuse, but of rickets (which was only diagnosed at the autopsy). The baby died in hospital, where no doubt it could have been saved had it been correctly diagnosed.

Social services and the police were heavy-handed and the couple’s second child was taken away at birth.

Yes, the doctors, social services and police have shown heavy-handedness and incompetence, and the wretched parents have gone through horrors. But rickets? There is absolutely no need for any child in this country to suffer from rickets, a condition which was wiped out in the mid-20th century when the consequences of vitamin D deficiency were understood.

The parents of this child did not abuse it, but they are culpable of negligence, albeit from ignorance.  However, the medical profession is also culpable:  they surely should have at least entertained the possibility.


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