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June 9 2013

Skeletons show rickets struck the Medici family


As the wealthy rulers of Tuscany and patrons of Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo, the Medicis were the 'first family' of the Italian Renaissance.

But all their wealth could not buy good health for their young sons and daughters. A study1 of the skeletons of nine Medici children born in the sixteenth century shows that they had rickets, a vitamin D deficiency that causes bones to become soft and even deformed. What’s more, the disease was partially a result of the privileged upbringing these children enjoyed, which in particular led them to stay mostly indoors.

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