Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 503–512

Spatial distribution of calcium in food, water and soil and its possible influence on rickets disease in Northern Nigeria


DOI: 10.1007/s10653-011-9440-0

Cite this article as:
Hartmann, L. & Sponholz, B. Environ Geochem Health (2012) 34: 503. doi:10.1007/s10653-011-9440-0


Since the 1990s, children of the Gbagyi tribe in Northern Nigeria have been suffering severe rickets with an incidence of up to 40% in the children’s generation. The disease seems to be prevalent in an area of approximately 100 km2 south-east of Kaduna. According to broad medical studies in that area, there is no evidence for a genetic disposition but for a nutritional cause of the disease. A lack of calcium was found in blood and was calculated to originate from diet. We therefore checked parent material, soil, maize cobs (Zea mays) and drinking water for their specific Ca contents from a region with rickets problem (study area A) and compared the results to Ca amounts in similar samples from a region where rickets is unknown among the Gbagyi population (study area B). It thereby became apparent that there are no differences in mineralogical composition of the parent material between the study areas, but that Ca contents in soil, maize cobs and drinking water are 47.6%, 26.6%, respectively, 79.1% lower in study area A compared to study area B. This result suggests that there may indeed be a nutritionally and/or environmentally influence on rickets disease. Nevertheless, further research on this topic is required.


RicketsCalciumEnvironmental cause study

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Physical GeographyUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Physical GeographyUniversity of FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany