Clubfoot can prevent children from walking, going to school, and being part of their communities.
What is clubfoot?
Clubfoot (or talipes equinovarus) is a congenital birth defect that causes the one or both feet to turn inward. The exact causes are unknown, but research indicates genetic factors may play a role.
Clubfoot results from abnormal development of the muscles, tendons and bones of the fetus. Shortened tendons and ligaments on the inside of the lower leg lead to the foot turning inward. A tight Achilles tendon contributes to the rigidity of the foot.
It occurs in both feet about 50% of the time.
Clubfoot occurs in approximately 1 out of 750 births, with some variation across countries and ethnic groups and an increased incidence in children born to a parent with clubfoot. It occurs more often in boys than girls.
There are about 200,000 new cases of clubfoot each year around the world.
The existence of this condition has been documented for thousands of years and is one of the most common birth defects.
The good news is that The Ponseti Method of treatment, which has become accepted as the gold standard treatment over the last 5-10 years, is very easy on the child, non-surgical and effective in 95% of cases. The Ponseti Method is endorsed by the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institutes of Health.
After centuries of treating clubfoot with casting and bracing, surgery became a popular option in the 1950-70's but has since been found to lead to considerable health issues later in life. The feet tend to become stiff, weak and painful, often resulting in the need for additional surgeries.
Treatment should ideally begin within a week or so of birth, since the tendons and ligaments are at their most elastic and correction occurs most easily. However, Tthe Ponseti Method has been used very successfully on children up to the age of 6 and recently there is evidence that children as old as 16 can be treated effectively.