Congenital hand anomalies refer to a rather rare group of conditions of the hand where a child is born with abnormal hands. “Congenital” refers to any condition that the child is born with as oppose to being acquired later in life. A common example of a congenital skeletal limb anomaly would be clubfeet (1/1000 births). Congenital hand anomalies are much more rare, comprising only 10% of all congenital birth defects. The spectrum can vary from an extra digit to the total absence of a part of the upper limb. These conditions can present as an isolated anomaly, like syndactyly (fused or webbed fingers) or in association with systemic syndrome like Poland syndrome (webbed and short fingers with absent sternocostal head of the pectoralis major muscle). In certain malformations that affect the thumb side of the forearm and the hand (radial longitudinal deficiencies), there may be an association with multiple other abnormalities called the VACTERL complex. We do not understand the cause of all these conditions but we do have a better understanding of the development of the limb bud in utero. At around eight weeks the limb bud develops very quickly and it is typically during this period that abnormalities arise.

Irrespective of the extent of the anomaly, the parents have to deal with a lot of emotional issues and tough decisions.

This blog serves as a platform for parents to share and support other parents dealing with the same problems. I will try and answer questions on a regular basis and keep parents updated with the current literature. Please contact the practice at info@capehandsurgery.co.za if you need further information.

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