Newborn babies are prone to several conditions, including jaundice, abdominal distension, oral thrush, ear infections, and clubfoot. Clubfoot—as it is regularly called—is a common condition associated with infants. And it seems to be spreading fast.
According to studies, about one in every 1,000 infants are born with clubfoot. Also, the symptoms of clubfoot aren’t the same for all babies. For some, their feet may curl sideways with the toes distorted in an unusual way. For others, their feet might have a weird shape and point in an abnormal direction so that they looked twisted or even nearly inverted.
Clubfoot is a serious condition that needs to be addressed quickly, as the functionality of your child depends on the ability of all locomotive components to function optimally. Thus, if your child is diagnosed with clubfoot, it makes sense to have a little insight into this condition. Doing so should provide you with an adequate amount of relief and clarity.
What is Clubfoot?
Clubfoot—also known as talipes equinovarus (TEV)—is a type of foot condition whereby your baby’s foot is distorted, that is, twisted out of shape or position. Normally, an infant’s foot is supposed to be straight, with the sole touching the ground, as it is with a typical infant. However, with clubfoot, the foot is often twisted abnormally in a way that impedes or disturbs the infant’s movement.
In clubfoot, the tissues merging the muscles to the bones (tendons) aren’t as long as they should be. Clubfoot isn’t common in adults or teenagers. Instead, it is a condition that is associated with newborn babies.
Degrees of Clubfoot
Not all clubfoots are serious. While some can be severe, others can be mild. Around half of children with distorted feet have it in both feet. If your child were born with a distorted foot, walking would be difficult. To prevent this, doctors will advise treating it soon after birth to fix the abnormally and give your child the chance to work appropriately.
Severe clubfoot is usually treated with surgery. But, mild clubfoot may be treated without your child going under the knife. Though sometimes, treatments done without surgery are usually followed up with one in the future.
Why it happens
No one is sure of what causes clubfoot. Even doctors with multiple degrees and titles to their names cannot boldly state the real cause of this foot abnormality. However, little proof suggests that this condition—which is often associated with infants—is caused by some genetic factors. And what does this mean? It means it is hereditary.
In other words, it runs in families. So if your firstborn was delivered with this condition, the chances are that your next child will have the condition as well.
However, that is not all.
Research linked clubfoot to the children of mothers who smoked or used street drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, and heroin during pregnancy. This is very valid if there already exists a family background of clubfoot. In addition, there could be a connection between decreased amniotic fluid and clubfoot. Amniotic fluid is a transparent, yellowish liquid that encompasses a fetus during pregnancy.
If you are expecting a child and discover that you have a family history of clubfoot, you should contact a genetic counselor. This individual is in the best position to tell you your chances of delivering a baby with clubfoot.
Clubfoot awareness for health professionals
Clubfoot awareness is a condition that is gradually becoming popular among babies. Thus, it is important to create awareness of this condition. And contrary to what you may think, mothers aren’t the only category of individuals who need good insight into TEV.
Health professionals, especially those who aren’t quite conversant with this condition, are encouraged to hone their knowledge of TEV by leveraging the right essential training for health professionals. Doing so will provide them with enough insight into this foot condition and the skills to better cater to babies suffering from TEV.
With that said, let’s take a look at the symptoms of TEV.
Clubfoot is very obvious. By merely looking at a child’s foot, you can tell if he has this condition or not. Here are some common symptoms:
- The foot faces downward, and the toes may be twisted inward.
- The foot seems to be sideways or sometimes inverted.
- The foot may be little, unlike that of a typical healthy baby.
- The calf muscles on the troubled leg may be premature
- The child may have difficulty walking with the foot
Since the signs of clubfoot are pretty obvious, doctors should have fewer difficulties spotting them. All they have to do is look at the foot upon their delivery. If you visit the hospital for an ultrasound test late in your pregnancy, your doctor may note the abnormally then.
Clubfoot can be treated using either the ponseti method or surgery. However, doctors must correct the deformed foot right after your baby is born. Since babies don’t utilize their feet a few months after birth, the goal is to fix their feet early enough to stop delays.
Here are the two common treatments for TEV.
The ponseti method involves stretching the affected foot and applying a cast to correct the issue. First, the doctor will stretch your baby’s foot towards the right position and then apply a cast to keep it that way. Occasionally, the cast will be removed, the foot will be stretched again to the right position, and another recast will be applied. Your doctor will keep this up until the foot is well aligned.
Surgery is the best option if the tendons and other tissues are too little to be stretched. The ponseti method is usually ineffective here.
Infants who require clubfoot surgery often go under the knife between 6 months and a year. Unlike the ponseti method, the doctor fixes the foot in one procedure.
Knowledge of TEV or clubfoot is important for mothers and health professionals who lack adequate insight into this foot deformity. Furthermore, if you have traces of TEV in your family, it makes sense to understand what this condition is and visit a genetic counselor to know your chances of delivering a baby with this issue.