The small fetus growing inside the mother’s womb develops periodically over time. However, due to their parent’s chromosomes, some fetuses can develop congenital imperfections in their limbs. One such condition is known as the clubfoot, wherein the baby’s foot turns inward or outward. This condition can occur in a single foot or in both. The reason for this imperfection is that the tendons which connect the leg muscles to the heel portion are short and hence, it twists the foot to go out of shape.
Clubfoot is medically referred to as Talipes equinovarus or congenital Talipes Equinovarus. According to doctors, the real reason for a fetus to develop clubfoot is unknown. The latest genetic research suggests that gene mutation and changes are the reason for clubfoot; many still believe it could be passed down through families. It is also a myth that clubfoot is caused due to the fetus’s position in the womb. Orthopedics link club foot to
- Skeletal abnormalities like hip dysplasia
- Disruption of the N pathway between the brain, spinal cord or even a nerve
One research that suggests that clubfoot can occur if the environmental condition of the baby and mother were stressful. Here is the conclusion of the research:
- If the mother smoked cigarettes or she is under tremendous stress, the baby has developed clubfoot.
- In some incidences, aged and diabetic mothers to have given birth to clubfoot babies.
- When amniocentesis is conducted at an early stage of pregnancy, there has been a higher possibility of a clubfoot diagnosis. There is a prediction that lower the quantity of amniotic fluid more is the probability of clubfoot in the newborn.
The symptoms of clubfoot include:
- An inward or outward turned foot with toes pointed towards the opposite foot.
- Small twisted feet.
- The heel of the clubfoot looks smaller than the other feet.
- Calf muscle will appear shorter than the other normal feet.
Clubfoot can be identified during ultrasound examination if both feet are deformed. However, it can be clearly observed once the baby is born. To analyze the extent of the tendon tightness, an x-ray examination needs to be conducted on the newborn.
Though clubfoot can be identified during the ultrasound examination of the fetus, treatment is possible only after the child is born. The two main treatment techniques for clubfoot are:
- Stretching and reshaping the foot: Ponseti method is the most preferred method where stretching is combined with a cast.
- If the clubfoot is severe, surgery is the best option: Surgeon will lengthen the tendon and realign the bones and joints to correct the clubfoot. The child will need to wear a cast, and special shoes until the realignment is complete.
Since smoking habit in mothers is considered as one of the reasons for clubfoot, gestating mothers should refrain from taking stress and smoking to keep their baby healthy. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and a calm mind help the fetus to grow safe and sound.
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For some children, clubfoot cannot be cured by the treatments mentioned above. They have a risk of damaging their tendons and hips as they continue to walk sideways.