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Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms in Children

Vitamins are essential nutrients that the body needs in small amounts to sustain life. The body absorbs these very important organic compounds by our everyday food; however some foods are known to have more vitamins and minerals than others. 

Vitamins can be divided into two categories, fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins: 

  • Fat-soluble vitamins: can be stored in the body. These are vitamins A, D, E and K. 
  • Water-soluble vitamins: need to dissolve in water before the body can absorb it, because of which your body doesn’t store these vitamins. These are vitamins C and B complex. 

Vitamins are the building blocks and support system of the body, which a healthy and well-rounded diet can easily provide. Vitamin deficiency in children can lead to potential ailments and health conditions. 

Some symptoms of vitamin deficiency in children are the following:

  • Vitamin A deficiency: night blindness and eyesight related issues.
  • Vitamin B deficiency: infant development delays, movement disorders, anemia, and or nerve damage. Children should receive their daily intake of vitamins trough a well balanced and healthy diet which should include milk and other dairy products like yogurt and cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables (especially the leafy kinds), proteins such as chicken, fish, eggs and meat, and whole grains that include brown rice and oatmeal. Some children need vitamin supplements because, due to their parents busy lifestyle, home cooked meals might not be possible everyday or because kids can be picky eaters, or don’t eat enough. Children with medical conditions related to the digestive system as well as those with asthma, active children who play physically demanding sports, might also require vitamin supplements. Consult a pediatrician before giving your child any vitamin supplements.
  • Vitamin C deficiency: bleeding gums, easy bruising, reduced wound healing rate, decreased ability to ward off infections, anemia, dry and splitting hair, gingivitis, rough and scaly skin, nosebleeds, weakened tooth enamels or painful and swollen joints.
  • Vitamin D deficiency: muscle spasms, seizures, respiratory problems, soft skull or bones, poor growth (height), teeth formation, weakness of the heart muscles.
  • Vitamin E deficiency: chronic cholestatic hepatobiliary (liver disease), muscle weakness, Ptosis (drooping eyelid), dysarthia (motor speech disorder), ophthalmoplegia, loss of position and vibration senses, truncal, and limb ataxia, or spinocerebellar ataxia (gross lack of muscle movement coordination).

Vitamin Benefits

  • Vitamin A benefits: Promotes tissue and bone repair, development and normal growth, immune responses, and healthy eyes and skin. Some good sources of vitamin A include eggs, cheese, milk, sweet potatoes, carrots and squash.
  • Vitamin B benefits: Are vitamins B2, B3, B6 and B12, which help in production of energy, metabolism, healthy nervous and circulatory systems. Some good sources of vitamin B are meat, fish, chicken, milk, eggs, nuts, beans, cheese, and soya beans.
  • Vitamin C benefits: Encourages healthy connective tissue, muscles and skin. Some sources of vitamin C are strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi, and green vegetables, like broccoli.
  • Vitamin D benefits: Aids in bone and formation of teeth, as also helps the body absorb calcium. Some healthy sources are yogurt, milk, cheese, tofu and calcium fortified orange drinks.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time to honor and remember children and families affected by these rare diseases, and help rally support to give kids with cancer better outcomes by supporting our ground-breaking research.

A cancer diagnosis is upsetting at any age, but especially so when the patient is a child. It’s natural to have many questions, such as, Who should treat my child? Will my child get well? What does all of this mean for our family? Not all questions have answers, but the information and resources on this page provide a starting point for understanding the basics of childhood cancer.

Treating Childhood Cancer

Children's cancers are not always treated like adult cancers. Pediatric oncology is a medical specialty focused on the care of children with cancer. It's important to know that this expertise exists and that there are effective treatments for many childhood cancers.

Where To Receive Treatment

Children who have cancer are often treated at a children’s cancer center, which is a hospital or unit in a hospital that specializes in treating children with cancer. Most children’s cancer centers treat patients up to age 20.

The doctors and other health professionals at these centers have special training and expertise to give complete care to children. Specialists at a children’s cancer center are likely to include primary care physicians, pediatric medical oncologists/hematologists, pediatric surgical specialists, radiation oncologists, rehabilitation specialists, pediatric nurse specialists, social workers, and psychologists. At these centers, clinical trials are available for most types of cancer that occur in children, and the opportunity to participate in a trial is offered to many patients.

Types of Treatment

There are many types of cancer treatment. The types of treatment that a child with cancer receives will depend on the type of cancer and how advanced it is. Common treatments include: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplant. Learn about these and other therapies in our Types of Treatment section.

NCI’s PDQ® pediatric treatment cancer information summaries explain treatment options for all children’s cancers. The summaries also include information about diagnosing and staging cancer.

Clinical Trials

Before any new treatment can be made widely available to patients, it must be studied in clinical trials (research studies) and found to be safe and effective in treating disease. Clinical trials for children and adolescents with cancer are generally designed to compare potentially better therapy with therapy that is currently accepted as standard. Most of the progress made in identifying curative therapies for childhood cancers has been achieved through clinical trials.

Treatment Effects

Children face unique issues during their treatment for cancer, after the completion of treatment, and as survivors of cancer. For example, they may receive more intense treatments, cancer and its treatments have different effects on growing bodies than adult bodies, and they may respond differently to drugs that control symptoms in adults. 

All cancer survivors can develop health problems months or years after cancer treatment, known as late effects. For childhood cancer survivors, late effects are of particular concern because these may last for many years. 

In the United States in 2015, an estimated 10,380 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed among children from birth to 14 years, and more than 1,000 children will die from the disease. Although pediatric cancer death rates have declined by nearly 70 percent over the past four decades, cancer remains the leading cause of death from disease among children. The major types of cancers in children ages 0 to14 years are acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), brain and other, and neuroblastoma, which are expected to account for more than half of new cases in 2015.

The causes of most childhood cancers are not known. About 5 percent of all cancers in children are caused by an inherited mutation (a genetic mutation that can be passed from parents to their children).

Most cancers in children, like those in adults, are thought to develop as a result of mutations in genes that lead to uncontrolled cell growth and eventually cancer. In adults, these gene mutations reflect the cumulative effects of aging and long-term exposure to cancer-causing substances. However, identifying potential environmental causes of childhood cancer has been difficult, partly because cancer in children is rare and partly because it is difficult to determine what children might have been exposed to early in their development.