If your child's foot (or feet) is broad and short, and his or her forefoot points inward, then he or she may be dealing with clubfoot. The condition, which affects the foot's muscles, bones, and tendons, is usually present at birth. Below are the risk factors of the congenital deformity, and the potential complications that may occur if it is not treated early enough.
Sex – more male children are born with clubfoot than their female counterparts. For every female with a clubfoot, there are two males with the same condition.
Infections – mothers who deal with infections during their pregnancy are more likely to have babies with clubfoot congenital disorders.
Family history – clubfoot is an inherited disorder, which means if the parents or other children have the condition, then the baby is also likely to be born with it.
Low amniotic fluid – Oligohydramnios (low amniotic fluid during pregnancy) also increases the chances of developing the condition. According to americanpregnancy.org, low oligohydramnios has several causes such as post date pregnancy, maternal complications such as diabetes, and a premature rupture of the membranes.
Smoking – mothers who smoke risk giving birth to babies with a number of birth defects, one of which is clubfoot. The risk can increase by as much as 50%.
Some of these, such as sex and family history, are things you cannot control. Fortunately, you do have some control over some of these risk factors. For example, you can stop smoking, do your best to avoid maternal infections (and treat them promptly if they do occur), and (in conjunction with your doctor) keep your amniotic fluid at an appropriate level.
If you do give birth to a baby with a clubfoot, then he or she may experience different complications such as:
- Limited mobility due to twisted ankles; the child may have to walk on the balls of his or her feet as a compensation, but this is not very effective.
- Low self-esteem and self-consciousness when he or she realizes that he or she is different from the other children.
- Difficulty in finding the right pair of shoes since one foot may be smaller than the other one.
- Developmental problems because the walking difficulties may hinder growth of the feet muscles.
All is not lost, however, if you do have such a baby. There are different treatment programs that can improve your child's condition. For example, manual manipulation, splinting, and casting may help if started early enough. The child may also have to wear feet braces for the first few years of his or her life.
Surgery may be necessary for serious cases, recurring cases or when the non-surgical methods do not seem to help. Such surgeries are often followed by postoperative care such as the use of pins, casts, and surgical wires. These are necessary to hold the feet in their respective position while they heal. (For more information on foot surgery for clubfoot, contact a practice such as Town Center Orthopaedic Associates)