When Whistler published his slim Leyden graduate thesis on rickets in 1645, which was followed by Glisson's adequate volume in 1650, the origin of what was then called "an entirely new disease" was attributed to conditions having little relation to diet and sunshine. But, by the end of the eighteenth century, authorities were able to conclude that climate and especially dampness had much to do with the origin of rickets, and that improper food also had some part in its etiology.
From the time of the first description of this malady, the theory that rickets was an inheritable ailment has persisted with singular tenacity. The influence of maternal heredity still claims attention, even though modern experimental science seems to have proved that the disease is a disturbance of calcium and phosphorus metabolism caused by lack of a mysterious substance in the diet and a lack of sufficient sunshine on the
FOOTE JA. EVIDENCE OF RICKETS PRIOR TO 1650. Am J Dis Child. 1927;34(3):443-452. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1927.04130210118014