What is scurvy?

Scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C, which is found in fruits and vegetables. It is uncommon in older children but sometimes is seen in infants on a poor diet without breast milk (which is rich in vitamin C). Scurvy causes painful, tender bones (due to bleeding under the periosteum) which presents in infants with irritability and crying when handled. They do not like moving their legs and may be misdiagnosed as osteitis, paralysis or battering. Bleeding gums are rare as they only occur in children old enough to have teeth. An X-ray of the long bones shows diagnostic lifting of the periosteum.

Scurvy is treated with 250 mg vitamin C orally 4 times a day for 5 days. Correct the diet.

The prevention of scurvy, through the provision of fruit and vegetables, on the long sea voyage from Europe to the spice islands of Indonesia and Malaysia, was the reason for the colonisation of the Cape by the Dutch in 1652.

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