DEFICIENT SUNLIGHT IN THE AETIOLOGY OF OSTEOMALACIA IN MUSLIM WOMEN
Hon. Visiting Physician, Jaslok Hospital and Bornbay Hospital, Murnbai, Ex. Hon. Prof. of Medicine, Grant Medical College and JJ Hospital, Mumbai 400 008.
Diagnosis of osteornalacia is very commonly missed in private practice. It is a very common illness in Hindu female patients, more so in Rajasthani, Maharashtrians and Gujaratis. This is because of their habits and long periods of lactation.
The diagnosis is missed because symptoms of "cramps"" are often not registered. The backache and pain in the pelvic bones is often misdiagnosed as osteoarthritis. This disease is more common in young and often lactating females.
Raised serum alkaline phosphatase with normal gama GT is often suggestive of this condition. Now blood levels of Vitamin D3 could be obtained from some of the leading pathology laboratories and a very accurate diagnosis can be made before the X-rays show positive diagnostic features.
I am writing this article to draw the attention of the practitioners to the incidence of this disease in Muslim women.
Osteomalacia is presumed to be rare in Muslim women because their intake of calcium is definitely higher. Also in some of the advanced Muslim communities like the Agakhanis, Bohris and the modem Muslim families who live in cosmopolitan localities, the disease is definitely rare and is much less common than in above mentioned Hindu women. However in most of the Sunni Muslim women (who form majority of the Muslims), inspite of high intake of calcium, osteomalacia is often seen. There are two reasons for this-
1 . Use of burkha which prevents sunlight reach ing the skin.
2. Living indoors - most of the Muslim women specially those staying in the Muslim localities, do not move out of the house and thus are not exposed to the sun and often develop osteomalacia.
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