Pediatric Scurvy: How an Old Disease Is Becoming a New Problem

Megan Fortenberry, Heather Rucker, Katelyn Gaines
Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics: JPPT: the Official Journal of PPAG 2020, 25 (8): 735-741
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) functions as a cofactor and antioxidant within the human body that enables tissue growth and repair, but vitamin C is not intrinsically produced. Scurvy, or ascorbic acid deficiency, has traditionally been viewed as a historical disease. With the incidence of autism spectrum disorder and food restriction on the rise, children's hospitals may see increasing cases of scurvy. This is a single-center, retrospective case series including patients aged 7 to 14 years who were admitted to the Kentucky Children's Hospital with scurvy in the 2018-2019 period. Although selective or restricted eating is not an uncommon behavior among children, especially toddlers, parents of autistic children frequently report their children to be exceedingly selective eaters. However, there currently are conflicting findings on whether this leads to nutritional inadequacy. Although no guidelines exist for the treatment of scurvy, the mainstay of therapy is reintroduction of vitamin C. Oral therapy is generally preferred, but vitamin C can be given parenterally when necessary. In conclusion, oral aversion is a symptom commonly seen in patients with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental delays, potentially leading to increased cases of scurvy. Treatment of scurvy includes reintroduction of vitamin C into the diet. However, oral supplementation may pose unique challenges in this patient population.

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