Club Foot

Clubfoot results when the bones and ligaments of the foot do not form like they typically would during a pregnancy, causing them to curl up into a ball, rotate inward, or “club”. Clubfoot can be the only defect at birth (isolated clubfoot), or be one of several different features of an underlying genetic syndrome. It has many potential causes, including genetics as well as physical or environmental factors. Around 1 in 1,000 babies are born with a clubfoot, and it may be present on either one (unilateral) or both (bilateral) feet. It is more common in males than females.

Clubfoot is frequently found during the anatomy ultrasound (around 20 weeks of pregnancy) when your doctor will be looking at your baby’s anatomy in detail. Most of the time, clubfoot is isolated. However, your doctors will look carefully for any additional signs that may be suggestive of an underlying condition (such as a chromosome condition). You may speak with a genetic counselor to discuss family history for any possible connected symptoms or birth defects. Genetic counselors can also discuss the benefits and limitations of prenatal genetic screening and testing options which some families may find useful to investigate the possibility of an underlying condition for the clubfoot.

The prognosis (or outcome) of a clubfoot is usually very good, especially when it occurs as an isolated case. Treatment for clubfoot will depend on the severity of clubbing, but frequently involves special foot braces that stretch and reorient the bones and ligaments in the foot. This is done shortly after birth, while the baby’s joints are still relatively flexible. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary, but most cases of clubfoot are resolved within a year. After treatment, children with isolated clubfoot are usually able to lead active lives.

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Additional Resources

March of Dimes:

Clubfoot C.A.R.E.S.:

Last updated on Jun 1st, 2021

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