Conquering Foot Defects in Babies
Moms and Dads count their newborn baby’s fingers and toes for a reason: after nine months of worrying about the baby’s health, this compulsive counting is an equation of relief:
10 fingers + 10 toes = Whew! My baby’s okay.
Sometimes, there’s something that doesn’t quite add up with your baby’s feet or toes. There are a number of things that can go wrong, but the good news is that they’re often quite treatable and with great outcomes. Here are four common conditions that you might see in a baby:
- Clubfoot: About 1 in 1,000 babies – more boys than girls – will be born with one or both feet turned inward or downward. Clubfoot isn’t painful, but it does need to be treated. It doesn’t get better on its own and your child will not be able to walk normally. Treatment from a very early age – including exercising, stretching, and placing the feet in casts and, later, braces – will yield excellent results and have your child walking and participating fully in sports and other play activities.
- Polydactyly: Entering the world with extra toes is more common than you might think – about 1 in 1,000 babies has one or more extra toes. The extra digit may be simply a stub or it may be fully formed. If the digit isn’t very large, a doctor may clamp it to stop the blood flow and it’ll eventually drop off. More often, surgery is required at about 1 year old.
- Syndactyly means a baby is born with toes that are fused together either at the soft tissues just below the skin, or deeper, encompassing bones and blood vessels, too. Before the child’s first birthday, surgery may be performed to separate the toes, and depending on the number of toes involved, more than one surgery might be performed.
- In-toeing and Out-toeing: When your baby begins to walk, his feet may noticeably be pointing inward (in-toeing, or “pigeon-toed”) or outward (out-toeing). Many children will simply outgrow this tendency, but some cases will need intervention in the form of special shoes, braces, and sometimes surgery.
These are just a few of the pediatric conditions that we treat here at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Centerville, Virginia. If you live in Fairfax County and have a concern about your baby’s feet, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm, board-certified podiatrist at (703) 996-3000 or make an appointment online.