A Case Report

Scurvy May Occur Even in Children With No Underlying Risk Factors

Romina Gallizzi; Mariella Valenzise; Stefano Passanisi; Giovanni Battista Pajno; Filippo De Luca; Giuseppina Zirilli


J Med Case Reports. 2020;14(18) 

In This Article


Scurvy, also known as vitamin C deficiency, is an ancient disease that has existed for more than 3 millennia.[1] In modern developed countries, this condition has become very rare and may only occasionally be encountered; it is mainly associated with underlying comorbidities and risk factors.[2–4]

Sporadic cases of scurvy are still observed, primarily among older and indigent persons who live alone and prepare their own food, as well as in alcoholics and food faddists.[5]

In the pediatric population, scurvy is even more uncommon, at least in individuals with no underlying medical conditions.[5] Until recently, in developed countries, the occurrence of scurvy in children had become a historical footnote, with most radiologists having never encountered a case.[6]

In the last few years, case reports describing the occurrence of scurvy in children with autism or other neuropsychiatric disorders have become less infrequent.[7–17] Additional at risk groups include children with iron overload (such as from multiple blood transfusions in sickle cell anemia or thalassemia), anorexia nervosa, celiac disease, Crohn disease, hemodialysis, and severe allergies to food products[18] or other causes of restricted dietary intake, such as fructose intolerance.[6]

In the present study we describe the history of an otherwise healthy child with scurvy and none of the above reported risk factors, in order to highlight a rare disease which still exists in the pediatric population and may present even in individuals without neurological abnormalities or other underlying medical conditions. The aim of this case description was to underline the importance of recognizing vitamin C deficiency as a cause of hematochezia and severe anemia in a child without bleeding diathesis.