Clubfoot is a birth defect marked by feet that are bent inward and downward. It often affects one foot but can sometimes affect both feet at the same time. Understanding this condition and its implications for newborn babies is essential, as it can lead to mobility problems and limited physical activities later in life.
What Is Clubfoot?
Clubfoot is a birth defect in which the feet are bent inward and downward. It is caused by abnormal development of the bones and muscles of the foot before birth, usually due to genetics. The prevalence of clubfoot varies from region to region, with the highest frequency found in South Asia.
Risk Factors for Clubfoot
While the exact causes of clubfoot are not known, there are some factors that may increase the risk for this condition. These include a family history of clubfoot, preterm birth or low birth weight, and certain genetic conditions such as Down syndrome and arthrogryposis. Additionally, studies have suggested that mothers who smoke during pregnancy may be increasing their child's risk of being born with clubfoot.
Symptoms of Clubfoot
Clubfoot is usually noticed soon after birth due to its visible signs and symptoms. When the baby’s foot turns inward, when touched it feels tighter or more contracted than expected, and when standing appears to be short on one side compared to the other, these all indicate that the baby may have clubfoot. In some cases, the condition is also accompanied by other physical deformities of the lower leg/foot area.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Clubfoot
Diagnosis of clubfoot is made by physical examination and imaging tests. Ultrasound can detect small deformities in the foot, while X-ray images are used to measure alignment and confirm the presence of other skeletal issues. Treatment may include stretching, bracing, and casting exercises as well as surgery in more serious cases. Early diagnosis is key to preventing long-term complications.
Resources for Support and Education
For parents or families of newborns diagnosed with clubfoot, getting information, services and resources is paramount. Many organisations exist to help provide education, support, and funding for the diagnosis and treatment of clubfoot.