Common Orthopedic Birth Deformities

mom and child playing

Unfortunately, birth deformities are quite common these days, and researchers estimate that about 1 in every 1,900 babies is born with a limb deformity in the United States.

A birth defect or a congenital disorder is a condition present at birth regardless of its cause, which includes a wide range of conditions affecting a baby’s bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These conditions occur while the baby is developing in the uterus. The cause can be either genetic, infectious, nutritional, or environmental factors, however, it is difficult to identify the exact cause.

Common Birth Deformities

There are many kinds of congenital conditions, and they vary widely from mild to crippling to life-threatening. Some of the common birth deformities are:


Clubfoot is the most common congenital orthopedic defect. It is a foot deformity and it can affect one or both feet. The affected foot is typically short and broad. The heel looks abnormally narrow, points downward, and the front of the foot turns inward. Babies born with clubfoot may also have a higher risk for developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH).

Developmental Dysplasia of Hip (DDH)

In a normal hip, the femur fits snugly into the socket of the hip. In babies with DDH, the hip joint has not formed normally. The ball is loose in the socket, as it is shallow. As a result, the head of the femur may slip in and out. It may dislocate partially or completely.

Metatarsus Adductus or Curved Foot

This is a condition where the front half of the foot is curved in. It may occur due to the infant’s position in the uterus during the crucial stages of development. This is commonly called in-toeing or pigeon-toes. They may also have a high arch and a wide gap between the big toe and the second toe.

Congenital Spinal Deformities

Congenital spine deformities are disorders of the spine that develop in a fetus prior to birth where the vertebrae do not form correctly in the early fetal development stage and in turn cause structural problems within the spine and spinal cord. Some of the spinal deformities are:

Scoliosis – A medical disorder that is characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine, creating a C or S-shaped spine.

Kyphosis – The failure of formation or failure of segmentation on the front part of one or more vertebral bodies and discs, creating a forward bend of the spine.

Lordosis – The lower back curve inward more than normal. A child with lordosis has a “swayback” appearance.

Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a genetic bone disease. It is also called brittle bone disease as babies born with it have bones that break easily, often for seemingly no reason. Multiple fractures are common in a severe case of osteogenesis imperfecta. There are at least 19 recognized forms of osteogenesis imperfecta, designated Type-I through Type-XIX.

Muscular Dystrophy

Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (CMD) is a general term for a group of genetic muscle diseases that occur at birth (congenital) or early during infancy. There are more than 30 muscular dystrophy diseases. Different types affect different muscles and depending on the type, muscular dystrophy may be present at birth or appear during childhood or adulthood.

Limb Defects

Congenital limb defects occur when a portion or the entire upper or lower limb fails to form normally or does not form when the baby is developing in the uterus. Limb deformities can be longitudinal or transverse. The exact cause for congenital limb deformity is not known, however, gene problems or exposure to some viruses or chemicals increases the chance.

Bone Infection

Osteomyelitis is an infection in the bone. Osteomyelitis can occur in children of any age but is more common in premature infants and babies born with complications since their immune systems may not be fully developed. Many different types of bacteria can cause osteomyelitis. The most common type of bacteria is called Staphylococcus Aureus.

Congenital deformity signs and symptoms may vary for each baby. If you think your baby shows a sign of one or more deformities, then it is best to consult an orthopedist specialist for early detection and treatment.

Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

Carolina Regional Orthopaedics provides the most effective, modern, and innovative techniques in both Orthopedic Surgery and Pain Management using proven methodologies in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions affecting the spine, upper extremities, and lower extremities. We specialize in hand and wrist surgery, joint replacements, sports medicine, trauma care, pediatric orthopedics, pain management, wound care, regenerative medicine, physical therapy, imaging services, and EMG testing.