Nunavut health officials say there were 24 suspected cases of rickets in the territory in 2012, and more than 100 since 2003. 

Health officials caution the numbers are estimated from community health centre reports about reasons for visits and may not represent a confirmed diagnosis.

Allison MacRury

Allison MacRury, Nunavut's territorial nutritionist, says vitamin D drops for children up to two years old are available at local health centres. (CBC)

Rickets is a disease usually caused by a lack of vitamin D. Its major symptom is softening of the bones, which can lead to deformities including bowed legs.

"If you have a diet low in vitamin D, and you're not taking vitamin D supplements, you can't really absorb the calcium you need to be strong and healthy," said Allison MacRury, Nunavut's territorial nutritionist. 

"We think of rickets in the bowing of the legs. That's because the bones are weak and kind of bendy because the calcium is not getting into there. That's why vitamin D is so important. It lets your body use the calcium."

MacRury says vitamin D drops for children up to 2 years old are available at local health centres. She says the drops can be placed on a finger, a soother or on a nipple for breastfeeding. 

MacRury says there are not many food sources of vitamin D but it is added to milk and margarine. It is also found in traditional foods such as maktaaq and fatty fish.

Year # of suspected cases
2003   10
2004   7
2005   13
2006   3
2007   7
2008   11
2009   10
2010   16
2011   11
2012   24
Total   112