Do You C What I C: Emergency Department Evaluation and Diagnosis of Pediatric Scurvy in an Autistic Child With a Restricted Diet

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Abstract

Scurvy in modern times may not be as rare as previously thought. The link between adequate intake of vitamin C and scurvy has been known since ancient times and is recorded in Ebers Papyrus. Recent reports indicate that, with restricted diets, vitamin C deficiency is being seen in infants exclusively fed plant-based formula and children with oral aversion, autism, restricted diets, and cerebral palsy. Additional at-risk groups include the older adults and patients having alcoholism. Often costly, emergency department visits and elaborate diagnostic studies lead to fruitless results when a simple diet history is often overlooked. Here, we report a case of pediatric scurvy in an 11-year-old autistic child with a restricted diet who presented with refusal to walk, fatigue, a purpuric rash, and gingival bleeding. The diagnosis was made based on diet history, physical examination findings, and symptom resolution with vitamin C supplementation. Our case report reaffirms that vitamin C deficiency still occurs and should be considered in children with restrictive diets. Early recognition of this disease by physicians provides early diagnosis, avoids costly diagnostic workup and hospitalization, and expedites effective treatment.

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