Congenital Hand Differences

When a baby is born with a hand that isn't typical, he or she has a congenital hand difference.

Causes including Genetic Factors

There are millions of steps involved when an embryo develops a typical arm and hand. This process begins shortly after conception, when the arm bud is first formed. As the upper limb develops, the tip of the arm bud sends messages to each cell involved in the process, and if any of these steps is missed, a congenital hand difference can result. The complete embryonic process is still being researched and, while some congenital hand differences can result from genetic causes, the cause of many others aren't fully understood.

Types of Congenital Hand Differences

Congenital hand differences are more common than many people think. In fact, one out of every twenty children is born with a hand that has either minor or major differences from a typical one. Congenital hand differences can be divided into those that result in failures of formations, where part of the arm or hand is missing; failures of separation, where parts of the hand are webbed or fused; duplication, where the hand has extra parts; and constriction band syndrome.

An examination by a qualified hand surgeon is the best way to determine if any treatment is available.

Common Reactions

The parents of a child born with a generalized hand difference may express feelings such as shock, guilt, and anger. It is critical that each member of a family is afforded an opportunity to recognize and express their feelings. It is equally important that family members understand that congenital hand differences are rarely the result of anything under the parents' control.

Non-Surgical & Surgical Treatments

Before any treatment can be considered, the baby needs to be evaluated by a hand doctor. The correction of webbed fingers entailed separating the fingers with surgery. Surgery is also effective for removing extra digits and reconstruction of the hand, if necessary. If finger or hand function has been impaired, surgery can prove helpful as well. Some cases don't require any medical assistance, and others can be helped through therapy alone.