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Medici children suffered from vitamin deficiency

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A study of the remains of nine Medici children, born in the 16th century, has revealed that they suffered from rickets, a bone disease caused by a vitamin D deficiency.

Rickets is usually associated with poverty and living in heavily polluted, close-built cities where there is little exposure to sunlight. But the Medici kids, ranging in age from newborn to 5 years old, “belonged to a high social class. We expect these children to be well-nourished”, says palaeopathologist Valentina Giuffra of the University of Pisa, a co-author of the study, which was published last month in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology1. So “it is surprising to find this,” she says.

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Story: Traci Watson, Nature | Photo: Nature

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