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Foot Problems in Newborns & Babies

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Updated June 01, 2009

One of the most common deformities in newborns are foot problems. Foot deformities have been found in almost 5% of all newborns. Most of these foot deformities are treated with nonsurgical treatments, and in many cases can simply be observed. However, it is important to understand the deformity to ensure appropriate treatment is being provided.

1. Metatarsus Adductus

Metatarsus adductus is a common foot condition seen in newborns and infants. Metatarsus adductus is found in about 1% of all newborns. It is usually detected when the toes and forefoot are pointed inward. The appearance of the sole of the foot has been described as a "bean shape."

2. Clubfoot

Clubfoot is a birth defect that causes a newborn baby's feet to point down and inward. While clubfoot does not cause pain, it can cause long-term problems, affecting the child's ability to walk. However, if clubfoot is properly treated, the clubfoot deformity can often be corrected in early childhood.

3. Congenital Vertical Talus

Congenital vertical talus is an uncommon cause of a flatfoot in newborns. It's often associated with other chromosomal or congenital conditions. The appearance of the foot in babies with congenital vertical talus is a flat foot with a "rocker-bottom" sole.

4. Polydactyly

Polydactyly is the word used to mean extra toes. Polydactyly can run in the family, but sometimes occurs without any family history of the condition. The usual treatment of polydactyly of the foot is to surgically remove the extra toe. The timing of surgery is delayed until the baby is about one year, but before she begins to walk.

5. Congenital Curly Toes

Curly toes occur when one of the toes is abnormally rotated. The toe will also be in a bend position, but the primary deformity is the malrotation of the digit. The treatment of a curly toe deformity is to cut the tendon on the bottom of the toe to relieve the stress causing the rotation.

6. Overlapping Toes

An overlapping toe is a condition of the 5th digit (the baby toe), when it crosses over top of the 4th toe. This condition occurs in varying degrees, and in some people is not bothersome. In others, an overlapping toe can create difficulties with footwear, and may require a surgical procedure to correct the deformity.

7. Sources

Gore AI, and Spencer JP "The Newborn Foot" American Academy of Family Physicians, Feb 15, 2004.
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