What is Clubfoot and What Can I Do About It?

Posted On: January 8, 2020 By Andrei Rebarber, MD

About one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect. Not all birth defects can be prevented or diagnosed prenatally, so navigating the possible birth defects during pregnancy can be stressful and overwhelming. Although your maternal fetal medicine specialist can ensure you understand the right steps to take to prevent some specific birth defects, it can be helpful to learn more about some of them and what steps can be taken to increase the chances of a healthy outcome. Clubfoot is one possible birth defect that can impact your baby in some ways without treatment, so here’s what we know about it.

What is Clubfoot?

Clubfoot is a birth defect that causes the foot to turn inward so that the sole of the foot faces sideways. It happens in about 1 in 1,000 babies in the US each year and can affect one or both feet. Sometimes, it can accompany other birth defects (like spina bifida or arthrogryposis) or it can occur on its own. Without treatment, clubfoot can cause serious problems with walking or arthritis later in life.

What Causes Clubfoot?

Clubfoot happens during development when the tendons and connective tissues in the legs are not aligned properly. Boys are twice as likely as girls to develop clubfoot. In some cases, isolated clubfoot has a familial inheritance, meaning your baby may have it if someone in your close family had it. Additionally, clubfoot can be caused by certain conditions or other birth defects like spina bifida, cerebral palsy, or Edwards syndrome (Trisomy 18). Some infections that you can experience during pregnancy can also cause clubfoot.

How is Clubfoot Treated?

If your baby has clubfoot, they will need some extra care steps after birth. Clubfoot is best treated early, meaning your baby should see medical professionals like a pediatric orthopedist, and physical therapist as early as one week after birth. There are mostly non-surgical methods that can help change the position of the foot, including stretching and casting the foot for dedicated periods of time. This helps the foot shift into the right position while the body gradually adjusts. Rarely, surgery can help correct the position of the foot. Whatever the right treatment method for your child, they should begin treatment before they begin walking.

What Can I Do to Prevent Clubfoot?

Your maternal fetal medicine specialist can assess your baby’s risks for clubfoot and discuss specific steps for you to take. Before you get pregnant, you should avoid alcohol, nicotine, and drugs to ensure your baby will have the best chance of remaining healthy. Additionally, you should avoid certain infections and assess your risks for certain conditions that might cause clubfoot. During pregnancy, your team can screen for clubfoot with a high-resolution ultrasound. If clubfoot is detected, you can begin planning your treatment options for your baby ahead of their birth so they can get treatment right away.

Schedule an Appointment

If your baby has clubfoot, they can still enjoy a happy and healthy life with the right steps. To meet with our maternal fetal medicine specialists at Carnegie Imaging for Women, schedule an appointment at our New York City offices by calling or filling out our online form.

Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!

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