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How Common Is Clubfoot in Babies?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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Clubfoot in babies is one of the most frequently diagnosed birth defects. According to some research, about one baby in every 1,000 born has this defect. Fortunately, this condition doesn't usually cause the affected person any pain. In fact, it generally doesn't cause any physical effects until the child grows old enough to stand up and walk. When the child starts standing and walking, his movement may be affected and sometimes discomfort develops because of the odd foot positioning.

There are many types of birth defects a child may have, and one of the most common is referred to as clubfoot. When a person has clubfoot, one or both of his feet are twisted inward and positioned downward. Interestingly, in the event that both of a child's feet are affected, the soles of his feet may actually face each other rather than the ground. The affected person may have just a clubbed foot, or he may suffer from other foot or leg abnormalities along with it.

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It helps to consider some statistics when attempting to evaluate the frequency of clubfoot in babies. Based on statistics provided by the March of Dimes, about one percent, or one child out of every 1,000 born, has this defect. Interestingly, male babies are more likely to have this defect than little girls — in fact, boys are twice as likely to have this defect. While it is important to note that the March of Dimes' clubfoot statistics are based on cases in the United States, the numbers are often similar in other countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, about one percent of infants are also affected.

Doctors and scientists are not entirely sure of the causes of clubfoot in babies. Years ago, the defect was often explained by the cramped positioning of the baby's limbs while inside the womb. This cause is related to some types of foot abnormalities, but such defects often get better after birth whereas clubfoot defects don't. Today, many experts believe that clubfoot in babies may be related to smoking and drug use by expectant mothers as well as infections that affect the baby while he is still in the womb. Genes may play a role in the defect as well. Unfortunately, there is no definite way to prevent the condition, but if a woman avoids smoking and drug use during pregnancy, she may lower her baby's risk of this and other types of birth defects.

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