About one baby in every 1,000 in the United States is born with clubfoot. Almost half of those babies have bilateral clubfoot where both feet have the deformity. The wonderful news is that there is a non-surgical treatment that, with rare exceptions, can correct clubfoot and help children live normal lives.

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What is clubfoot?

Clubfoot is a congenital foot deformity where the foot points downward with toes turned inward and the foot bottom twisted inward. Congenital means the condition exists at birth. The bones, joints and muscles of the foot are abnormal. In addition to the foot, the muscles in the lower leg are not as large as usual and will not develop correctly. Finally, the joints in the ankle do not move as much as normal and restrict mobility.

Most children born with clubfoot have no other congenital problems, but clubfoot can occur with other birth defects.

What causes clubfoot?

We're still not sure what causes clubfoot, but there are several theories to explain it:

  • The baby's foot stops growing at a certain point before birth.
  • There is pressure on the baby's foot in the mother's womb.
  • One of the bones in the foot does not form properly, causing the rest of the foot to grow crooked.
  • Some of the muscles in the foot do not form normally and cause the bones to grow crooked.
  • Heredity.

Prevention of clubfoot is not possible and it is unlikely that anything you did during pregnancy could cause clubfoot. 

How is clubfoot treated?

Clubfoot will not resolve without medical attention and treatment.  Fortunately, we have an extremely high success rate for correcting clubfoot using the Ponseti Method for non-surgical cast correction of clubfoot.

Research

Dr. Matthew Dobbs and a team of researchers are researching the genetic factors responsible for clubfoot.  The ultimate goal is to work on a preventive strategy. 


For more information about clubfoot, the Ponseti Method and the non-surgical correction of clubfoot at St. Louis Children's Hospital, call us at 314.454.5437 or 800.678.5437.