A mother in the UK, who is believed to originally be from Vereeniging in South Africa, has revealed that her son Noah died from Rickets, a childhood disease mainly caused by Vitamin D deficiency.
Beverley Thahane, who now lives in Shropshire in England, expressed her shock at the diagnosis during an interview with the BBC: “‘We know that in a country like this there is not a lot of sunshine. We didn’t know it can actually kill somebody.”
Thahane had repeatedly taken Noah, who was suffering seizures, to doctors… but it was only just before he died in January 2017 that he was diagnosed with a severe shortage of Vitamin D.
In a trailer on BBC, a tearful Thahane who now lives in Telford, says: “He started changing colour again and I knew he was going to have another seizure but unfortunately it ended up being a heart attack.
“Vitamin D is a silent killer. I am without a child now and the sickness was silent, nobody knew, nobody picked it up.”
Children with naturally dark skin are more susceptible to Rickets because their skin absorbs less sunlight, making it harder for their body to produce Vitamin D. The previous case – in 2014 – of a death from Rickets in the UK, was also with a child whose parents were from Africa – from Zimbabwe. However they had put him on a strict vegan diet which led to the disease, and were jailed after admitting manslaughter.
Apart from getting adequate sunlight, a diet rich in Vitamin D (such as liver, egg yolks and oily fish like sardines) and calcium is important in avoiding Rickets.
According to the BBC, Rickets affects “bone development and in some [rare] cases the heart and brain”. Although the disease was thought to have been eradicated in the ’50s, the BBC says a new two-year study has discovered at least 50 children per year are getting the disease which was once common in Victorian times.
It is still incredible rare to die from Rickets.
The Daily Mail and several other newspapers said they believed Thahane was born in South Africa. SAPeople has not yet received confirmation from Thahane.
The full story will be on Inside Out West Midlands on Monday 6 November at 19:30 GMT on BBC One and on iPlayer afterwards.