Congenital Limb Defect in Children

What is a congenital limb defect in children?

A congenital limb defect is when an arm or leg doesn’t form normally as a baby grows in the uterus. The baby is born with the defect.

What causes a congenital limb defect in a child?

The exact cause of this type of defect is not known.

Which children are at risk for a congenital limb defect?

Some things may increase the chances of this health problem. These include:

  • Conditions that affect the baby in the uterus as it grows. These include genetic abnormalities, growth restriction, and mechanical forces.
  • Exposure by the mother to chemicals or viruses while pregnant
  • Some types of medicines
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke

What are the symptoms of a congenital limb defect in a child?

A child with a congenital limb defect has an arm or leg that hasn’t formed normally. The most common of these defects are:

  • No limb at all
  • Part of the limb doesn’t separate, often seen in fingers or toes
  • Duplication, often seen as extra fingers or toes
  • The limb is much larger than the normal limb (overgrowth)
  • The limb is much smaller than the normal limb (undergrowth)

How is a congenital limb defect diagnosed in a child?

The diagnosis of a congenital limb defect is made at birth. It may be linked to other bone conditions or syndromes. Always talk with your child’s healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is a congenital limb defect treated in a child?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

The overall goal for treatment is to give your child a limb that works and looks right. Treatment goals can vary for each child. They may include:

  • Helping your child grow and develop
  • Helping your child feel a sense of independence
  • Encouraging self-care
  • Improving how the limb looks

There is no standard treatment for a congenital limb defect. Treatment choices may include:

  • Artificial limbs (prosthetics)
  • Splints or braces (orthotics)
  • Surgery
  • Rehabilitation, such as physical or occupational therapy

Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD

Online Medical Reviewer: Pat F Bass MD MPH

Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN

Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2019

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