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What Are Congenital Hand Disorders?

Congenital Hand Disorders polydactyly

Having extra fingers (polydactyly) and having joined fingers (syndactyly) are two common congenital hand disorders.

When a baby is born with a hand that isn’t typical, doctors call the condition a congenital hand disorder or congenital hand difference. “Congenital” means “present at birth.”

For some reason, the baby’s hand didn’t form the usual way while they were in the womb. Their hand may look only a little different than usual, and it may work normally or nearly normally. Or it may be quite different from a usual hand, with extra or missing fingers or other differences. In order to use the hand well, the child may need surgery, occupational therapy, a prosthetic device or other treatments.

Congenital Hand Disorders in Children

Congenital Hand Disorders syndactyly

Two of the most common congenital hand disorders are polydactyly (extra fingers) and syndactyly (joined fingers). Most children with these conditions have no other health problems.

Some hand differences are part of a more complex condition. Symbrachydactyly may also affect the forearm. Arthrogryposis and amniotic band syndrome are two conditions that may affect a baby’s hands and arms, along with other parts of their body.

Parents often wonder why their baby’s hand isn’t typical. Most often healthcare providers cannot tell what caused a congenital hand disorder. These hand differences are rarely caused by something the mother did or didn’t do while she was pregnant.

Congenital Hand Disorders at Seattle Children’s

The Seattle Children’s Hand and Upper Extremity Program treats children with congenital hand disorders. Each year we see many babies with these conditions in our clinics. Our doctors, surgeons, occupational therapists, nurses and many other healthcare providers work as a team. We create a treatment plan tailored to your child. Our goal is to get the best results possible.

For many of our patients, treatment means surgery – sometimes highly complex surgery, such as microvascular surgery. We have a lot of experience doing these surgeries in children.

As we learn what your child and family need, we connect you with other team members, such as social workers and nutritionists. When needed, our rehabilitation program provides occupational therapy to help children with congenital hand disorders gain the best use of their hands.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

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Spring 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

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