Polydactyly is a condition where a child will be born with extra fingers or possibly toes. Sometimes these fingers and toes are just an appendage, but sometimes they are fully structured and useable digits as well. Families that have children born with this condition are often concerned about what their next steps are going to be. The good news is that this is a condition that is fairly common in the world today and it also tends to run in families.
Statistics on Polydactyly
1. In the United States, Polydactyly occurs in one out of 500 to 1,000 newborns.
2. Boys and girls are affected about equally when it comes to this condition.
3. African-American children are more likely to have polydactyly on the little finger side of the hand. Asians and Caucasians are more likely to have it on their thumb side.
4. The incidence of Polydactyly in Caucasians is reported as 1 in 1,339 live births.
5. 1 in 143 live births in Africans and African Americans is expected to have some form of Polydactyly.
6. Surgery for this condition is usually done when the child is between 1 and 2 years old.
7. Many of the simpler cases are taken care of in the nursery by the obstetrician or pediatrician and don’t show up in the statistics.
8. There are over 30 rare congenital syndromes in which Polydactyly is present.
9. No male-to-male transmission of Polydactyly seems to have been documented.
10. In 2002, only 8 infants were born alive with Polydactyly in the United Kingdom.
11. There were three cases of abortions that occurred after the pregnancy was determined to include Polydactyly.
12. When it occurs spontaneously, it is a dominant trait. This means the child of a polydactyl parent would have a 1 in 2 chance of inheriting the trait themselves.
13. The little finger with no bone can be easily treated at birth by tying a suture around it. This causes the blood circulation to be cut off and the supernumerary digit to fall off after awhile.
14. It is located in chromosome 7 in humans.
15. Contrary to popular opinion or thought, inbreeding does not increase the likelihood of a child developing Polydactyly.
16. If both parents were polydactyls, then the likelihood of the child being affected is 75%.,
17. One study showed the incidence of all types of polydactyly to be 2.3 per 1000 in white males, 0.6 per 1000 in white females, 13.5 per 1000 in black males, and 11.1 per 1000 in black females.
18. The world record holder for largest number of digits is Akshat Saxena from Uttar Pradesh, India. He was born in 2010 with 7 digits on each hand and 10 digits on each foot, for a total of 34 digits.
19. Polydactyly has been associated with 39 genetic mutations.
20. About 15% of the cases of Polydactyly are believed to be hereditary in nature.
21. In the world today, about 250,000 children are born with some form of Polydactyly.
Diagnosis and Symptoms
There are generally three places on the hand that will develop an extra finger. The most common place is on the small finger side, but thumb duplication is also possible. The least common place for extra fingers is within the middle of the hand. The extra fingers that do develop are usually smaller than the normal fingers and they may not be as developed as they should be. For this reason, many parents want the extra finger removed as soon as possible.
Just as there are three general places for a finger to be located on the hand, there are three types of fingers that tend to form. The most easily removed are the extra fingers that are made up of just skin and soft tissue. Some fingers may also have bones associated with the finger that makes them a little more difficult to remove. The least common extra fingers, but the ones that are the most difficult to remove, are those that have bones and joints included in their formation.
Sometimes Polydactyly can be discovered during an ultrasound before birth, but all cases are apparent upon birth. Infants with extra fingers or toes are generally given an x-ray to determine what the structure of the extra may be and what treatment options may be available to families. As the statistics show, out of all the various defects with which a child may be born, Polydactyly is one of the least concerning that exist.
Causes and Treatment
Most cases of Polydactyly can be resolved through surgery or simple removal solutions. Some rare cases have fully functional fingers and toes that can become an asset to the individual. It isn’t a new condition that happens. There are known cases of extra fingers and toes that trace back to the days of the Roman Empire. Accusations of Polydactyly have even been used throughout history to bring scorn or shame on the reputation of people.
It can be bothersome sometimes to have something that is not quite normal as part of one’s body. For this reason, many parents choose to have the fingers removed as soon as it can possibly happen. Others prefer to keep the extra fingers because it is something that makes them unique. The right choice of treatment is up to the family, although people who have forked fingers or toes are generally more likely to seek plastic surgery options than those that have more common looking digits.
Polydactyly isn’t something that is just unique to humans. It is a common trait in several heritage chicken breeds, including Silkies, and a number of mutations of the LMBR1 gene, in dogs, humans, and mice, can cause Polydactyly. In most instances, an alignment of the finger and a new placement of tendons can help people or animals go on to live a regular life where no one even realizes that extra digits were on the hand and foot.