Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Dubai boy, 4, suffers scurvy after meat-only diet

Youngster, who developed sickness when in Dubai, could not walk for two months before going to clinic in Pakistan with swollen joints.

DUBAI // A four-year-old boy has developed scurvy because his parents fed him nothing but meat for two years.

The disease, now practically unheard of in the developed world, was diagnosed after the boy was admitted to a surgery in Pakistan with heavy swelling in the joints.

Scurvy occurs due to a lack of vitamin C in the diet, and symptoms can include bleeding gums, joint pain, and easy and severe bruising.

The boy, who developed scurvy while living in Dubai with his family, cannot be named and the parents could not be reached for comment.

Details of the case emerged after doctors who treated the child published a paper last month in the Case Reports in Orthopedics journal.

"We wanted to show that scurvy is still a problem and highlight the importance of good nutrition," said Dr Muhammad Salat, a doctor in paediatrics at Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi and one of the paper's authors.

Several hundred years ago the disease was common among sailors on long voyages, as they often did not have access to fresh fruit.

It has largely died out in the West but is still common in developing countries.

"If you go to the rural areas and slums where health care is not there, then you'll find all sorts of vitamin deficiencies, including scurvy," said Dr Salat.

But he said it was unusual to hear of a case in Dubai, where fresh fruit was plentiful.

Dr Sidiga Washi, a professor of nutrition at UAE University, said this was the first case of scurvy she had heard of in Dubai.

"It's actually hard to get it because you can get vitamin C from so many sources," Dr Washi said. "This is probably one of the only ways you'd get it, by just living on meat and nothing else for years."

The boy had intense swelling in his joints and was unable to walk for two months before going to the surgery in late 2009.

He was given 10 weeks of vitamin C replacement therapy and showed significant improvement.

"This was not an early-stage case," said Dr Salat. "The child had been ill for some time."

The boy was taken back to Dubai and Dr Salat said he had not received any more updates on his health.

He said it was not clear why the parents had fed the child only meat for two years.

"We tried to get a detailed nutritional history but they were a bit hesitant in giving the information," Dr Salat said.

"Sometimes language is a barrier; other times the mode of understanding of the family is a barrier."

mcroucher@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Shah Rukh Khan performs at the IPL Gala dinner to open IPL VII at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi.

In pictures: Shah Rukh Khan stars at IPL Gala dinner in Abu Dhabi

The superstar entertainer Shah Rukh Khan on stage last night at a gala dinner to launch the Indian Premier League cricket tournament.

No words can describe this April 17, your captions will

Have a catchy caption for this picture. Share it with us and we might publish it and reward you.

 When this 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp goes under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on June 17, it is expected to attract a world record bid for a single stamp of up to $20 million (Dh73.4m). Courtesy Sotheby’s

Rare 1856 stamp up for auction at Sotheby’s

This is one of the world’s rarest stamps and when it goes up for auction in June it should fetch $20million. Its history since it was issued in 1856 is fascinating – and includes one murderous chapter, as Jonathan Gornall reports

 The Retreat at the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa will screen IPL games on request. Lee Hoagland / The National

Top five places to catch an IPL game in the UAE

Enjoy all the 20/20 cricket action at a sports lounge near you – whether in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain or Dubai

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Barcelona’s Lionel Messi plays with a rugby ball during a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training camp, near Barcelona in Sant Joan Despi, April 15, 2014. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

In pictures: Barca play a little rugby before Copa del rey final

Barcelona and Real Madrid will play in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday night but the day before the match, Braca players played a little rugby during a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training camp, in Sant Joan Despi, Spain. Barca meet Real Madrid on Wednesday at 11.30pm (UAE time) and the match will be on BeIn Sports.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National