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Polydactyly belongs to the category of birth defects known as skeletal defects.

What It Is

Polydactyly is a condition in which a baby is born with more than five fingers on the hand or more than five toes on the foot. Usually, only one hand or foot is affected. This deformation occurs while the fetus is developing in the womb. When the fingers and toes are forming, an error occurs, and one single digit is split into two.

Some babies with polydactyly may possess a fully formed extra finger or toe. For most, however, the extra digit manifests as a fleshy stump, or an offshoot of another finger, lacking any bone or joints. Extra digits are rarely completely functional.

Polydactyly occurs in approximately one in every 1,000 births. While the condition is rarely harmful to the baby, some parents may elect to have surgery preformed to remove the extra digit for aesthetic reasons. In certain cases, an extra toe could make wearing shoes more difficult, rendering surgery necessary.


  • Baby is born with an extra finger or toe


Depakote: According to a recent study, women who take Depakote (Valproic Acid) during pregnancy may be at an increased risk of delivery a baby with polydactyly. Researchers studied the birth records from nearly four million deliveries, and discovered that babies born to mothers who took Depakote during pregnancy were twice as likely to have an extra digit.


Treatment of polydactyly can vary, based on the way the extra digit was formed. For babies exhibiting a fleshy stalk, tying a string around the boneless extra digit may be enough to cause it to fall of on its own. Larger, more substantial digits may need to be surgically removed. In complicated cases involving bone, ligaments and tendons, a child may need to wear a cast for a few weeks following surgery. The surgeon may also prescribe occupational therapy to increase mobility and reduce scarring during the recovery period.


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