A congenital hand difference is a hand that is abnormal at birth. During fetal development, the upper limbs are formed between four and eight weeks of pregnancy. During this time, many steps are needed to form a normal arm and hand. If any of these steps fail, then a congenital hand difference can result. It is not uncommon for a child to be born with a hand difference. In fact, 1 in 20 babies are born with one.
Some congenital hand differences can be major, and some can be minor. Here are 3 common differences:
- Syndactyly: This is when parts of the hand are webbed or fused together (failure of separation).
- Polydactyly: This is when the child has an extra small finger (duplication).
- Radial Polydactyly: This is when the child has an extra thumb (duplication).
Other differences may include missing fingers, or parts of the hand that are larger or smaller than normal. The cause of these issues is mostly unknown. Sometimes, they can result from genetics.
If your child was born with a hand difference, make an appointment to see a hand surgeon. He/she will then determine the best treatment option. It’s important to see a hand surgeon because the diagnosis may be different than you think. Surgery or hand therapy may be an option to treat your child.
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