Congenital Limb Defects
Congenital Limb Defects
When a portion or the entire upper or lower limb of a fetus does not form properly, a congenital limb defect occurs. Limb defects can range from fingers that fail to separate to the complete absence of one or more limbs.
The following are types of congenital limb defects.
- Incomplete or absent separation of the extremities. This can be seen when an infant is born with webbed fingers or toes. This occurs when portions of the limb fail to separate properly.
- Duplication of limbs or extremities. This defect can affect fingers and toes but can also lead to extra arms or legs.
- Overgrowth or undergrowth of the limbs. This occurs when one or both of the upper or lower limbs are either much larger or much smaller than an average limb.
- Complete absence of the upper (arms) and lower (legs) limbs.
Treatment for Limb Defects
Treatment for limb defect varies and is determined by the age and health of a child as well as the type and extent of the defect. Treatment of congenital limb defects aims to provide a properly functioning limb through surgery, prosthetics, splints, braces or therapy. Treatment can also improve the cosmetic appearance of a limb defect, which aids in emotional and social development.
Causes of Limb Defects
A 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that taking certain antidepressants while pregnant may increase the risk of certain congenital limb defects. According to the authors of the study, the use of an antidepressant was linked to limb-reduction defects. The association between the maternal use of certain antidepressants and this congenital malformation “warrants further exploration” the scientists said.
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