Written by Andrew Sarski on January 8, 2011
Hand Deformations in Infants
A hand deformation is a congenital defect of the hand or any part of the hand, including the thumbs and fingers. Congenital hand deformations are present at birth and occur in approximately one percent of live births each year. During normal fetal development, limb formation occurs from the third to eighth week of gestation. After only six weeks of gestation, the arms and legs of a fetus have grown longer and the foot and hand areas have fingers and toes but may still be webbed. If an abnormal event occurs during this stage of the process, it may hinder the fetus’ development and result in a birth injury of the hand.
Types of Hand Deformations in Infants
There are numerous different types of hand deformations, many of which are unique and may not be assigned a specific name. Generally, hand malformations are placed into one of seven different categories: failure of formation, failure of differentiation, undergrowth, overgrowth, duplication, constriction band syndromes and generalized anomalies and syndromes. The most common types of hand deformations are syndactyly, polydactyly, brachydactyly, macrodactyly, radial and ulnar club malformations, and constriction band defects.
A syndactyly and polydactyly defect are similar in nature. A syndactyly is the most common form of hand malformation and is characterized by the fusion of two fingers. Depending on severity, either the tissue alone or the tissue and bones of the fingers may be fused together. A polydactyly occurs when there is a duplication of fingers. Depending on the case, an extra digit may be attached by skin and nerves, an extra digit with normal parts may be attached to the bone or joint of a finger, or an extra bone may be located in the hand to which a finger, with all its normal parts, is attached.
Brachydactyly, macrodactyly and constriction band defects occur when the growth of the tissue in the fingers or arm is affected. A brachydactyly deformity is characterized by an abnormally short thumb and forefinger due to the underdevelopment of the bones and tissue. A macrodactyly defect, however, occurs when the tissue of a finger is overdeveloped. A constriction band malformation is when a constricting band of tissues is formed around the arm or finger, affecting tissue growth and blood flow.
Radial and ulnar club hand malformations affect the muscles and tissue of the arm and hand. A radial club hand deformity occurs when the thumb is abnormally small or absent and the and the muscles on the thumb side of the hand are underdeveloped. In an ulnar club hand defect, the malformation affects the tissue and muscles on the little finger side of the arm.
Causes of Hand Deformation in Babies
Few cases of hand deformations are caused by a single environmental or genetic factor, making it difficult to classify the possible risk-factors of each defect. One of the most common causes of this type of malformation though, is the use of pharmaceutical medications, particularly anticonvulsant drugs, during pregnancy. Pharmaceuticals can interfere with the natural progression of a fetus and since limb development takes place so early in the growth process, a person taking these drugs can cause harm to their unborn child before they are even aware that they are pregnant.
Expenses of Hand Deformations and Birth Defect Lawsuit Attorneys
Depending on the type and severity of the hand deformation, a child may require any number of surgical procedures to repair the defect, including skin grafts, tendon and nerve repairs, and skin flap procedure. If the malformation is not corrected, the child may find it difficult or impossible to perform simple, everyday tasks like grasping objects or playing with toys. If you or a loved one has suffered from a hand deformation and pharmaceuticals are believed to be the cause, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Many cases of pharmaceutical-related birth injuries have led to individual and class action lawsuits. You may be entitled to reimbursement for your injuries and an experienced lawyer can help you collect the compensation you deserve.