The medical phenomenon of being born with extra toes, as podiatrists and orthotics, as well as other medical professionals, is described as polydactylism. The term comes from the Greek words ‘poly’ and ‘daktylos’ for ‘many’ and ‘digits’, respectively. In other cases, the condition is also known as polydactyly.
A baby born with this congenital abnormality of the feet usually has an extra toe or two on either one or both feet. Thinking that polydactylism will affect both feet because we think that our bodies are symmetrical is flawed because, in most cases, only one foot is affected. Many podiatrists and orthotics, and other industry experts will tell you that there are 50% of cases are unilateral while the other 50% being bilateral.
Fun Fact: According to the Guinness World, an Indian carpenter, Devendra Suthar, holds the record of the only living person with more digits than anyone else with 14 toes and 14 fingers.
Being Born With Extra Toes Is Common
Many podiatrists and orthotics have seen many patients come into their practices about the case of having extra toes. Studies suggest that there are an estimated 1 in every 1000 babies born with polydactylism. This includes either or both toes and/or fingers. This means that congenital abnormality is more common than most of us think.
Podiatrists and orthotics often say that the occurrence is more prevalent in the forefoot and that polydactylism is often found on the left foot, with more boys born there than girls.
Is It Hereditary?
Babies growing in their mother’s womb have feet that look like paddles. This is in the initial phase, anyway. As time progresses, toes develop, and should one of the ten digits happen to split in half during this period, and the baby will be born with an extra toe. In some cases, extra toes can be seen during an ultrasound scan, and the baby can be diagnosed before birth.
So, is it a hereditary condition? Not always. However, there are some cases where families have the condition running hereditarily. There is often a 75% chance that a baby will be born with polydactylism if both parents were born with extra toes. However, the condition isn’t always in the genes.
Being born with extra toes can be a sign or indication of underlying genetic abnormalities. However, this is a rare occurrence.
What Can Podiatrists And Orthotics Do To Help?
Professional and qualified podiatrists can perform a gait analysis to assess affected patients and fit custom orthotics to help walking become more comfortable and check whether the feet are healing such surgery have been performed and further remove calluses and more.
If you were born with extra toes, and need help with either surgery or getting orthotics, speak to our podiatrists. Call us at Free your Feet Podiatry for professional assistance today.