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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Clubfoot is a birth defect that causes your baby's foot to point down and be turned inward. One or both feet may be affected. Your baby's foot bones, muscles, tendons, and blood vessels may also be affected. Clubfoot can range from mild to severe. Clubfoot develops because the tendons in your baby's leg and foot are shorter and tighter than normal. This causes the foot to be pulled into an incorrect position.
Contact your baby's healthcare provider if:
- You have questions or concerns about your baby's condition or care.
Help your child do stretching exercises provided by his healthcare provider. After casting, splinting, or surgery, he may also need to wear a brace for 3 to 4 years. A brace is a pair of shoes connected to a metal bar. He will wear the brace for 23 hours every day for 3 months. The hour it is off is for when you bathe your child. Your child's healthcare provider may also recommend other activities he can do while the brace is off. Your child will transition to wearing the brace when he sleeps at night and during naps. It can be difficult to make sure your child wears the brace, but it is important so clubfoot does not return. The following can help make it easier to stay with the routine:
- Encourage your child to walk and play in the brace. The way your child walks will depend on the kind of brace he has. Some braces have bars that bend as the baby walks. You may be able to move his legs up and down to help him get used to the motion. Other braces have solid bars that do not move. You may be able to help by pushing and pulling on the bar to make his legs bend and straighten. Your child may adjust to wearing a brace more easily if you play with him while he wears it.
- Create a brace wearing routine. Tell your child when it is time to put on the brace. Make it a normal part of getting ready for overnight sleep and naps. The brace may prevent your child from sleeping well. Talk to his healthcare provider if you notice your child is fussy or irritable from not getting enough sleep.
- Make your child's foot comfortable. Check that his heel is all the way down in the shoe. Tighten the straps to make sure the heel does not slide. It is normal to have some redness at first from the shoes. Do not put lotion on your child's feet. Lotion will make your child's foot slide in the shoe. Check his foot a few times every day for blisters, sores, and redness. These may mean his heel is sliding in the shoe.
- Prevent your child from getting out of the brace. Check that the straps and laces are tightly secured. It may help to have your child wear 2 pairs of socks or to use socks with nonslip soles. You can also try removing the tongue of the shoe. You can make the laces harder to loosen by lacing the shoe from top to bottom.
- Make the brace safe. Put a pad on the metal bar. This will help protect your child and anyone who is caring for him. It will also help protect furniture as your child walks. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to pad the bar and what to use for padding.
Prevent clubfoot in a future pregnancy:
Clubfoot often has no clear cause to prevent, but you can lower your baby's risk. Do not smoke cigarettes or take drugs while you are pregnant. To prevent other birth defects that may lead to clubfoot, take a prenatal vitamin. Start taking it at least 1 month before you get pregnant. Continue as directed through the first trimester. Look for prenatal vitamins that have at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects.
Follow up with your baby's healthcare provider as directed:
Your child's foot will need to be checked regularly to make sure the clubfoot is not returning. His feet may need to be checked until he is finished growing. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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