Congenital Amputation: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention, Diagnosis

What is Congenital Amputation?

Congenital Amputation is a medical condition where a child is born without an arm or hand as a result of inadequate development of the limb. There are different types of Congenital Amputations or absence of limb depending on the exact location as to where development of the limb stopped with the most common level being the middle of the forearm and wrist. Congenital Amputations normally occur unilaterally but in some cases there may be bilateral. When it comes to the rate at which this abnormality occurs then studies suggest that about 5-10% of the children are born with this abnormality.

Congenital Amputation

There is no known cause as to why this Congenital Amputation occurs. It has been proved that it not an inherited condition which means that if a person in the family has had this condition that does not in any way mean that any offspring in the family will have the condition. The general belief of the researchers is that Congenital Amputation occurs due to a blood clot in the hand during growth of the limbs of the fetus. For missing limbs, there is no particular treatment apart from using prosthetics but sometimes surgery is done to make sure that the prosthetic fits the limp perfectly so that the child with Congenital Amputations is able to function as normally as possible.

What Can Cause Congenital Amputation?

Why does Congenital Amputation occurs is not known as of yet but there have been several causes that are believed to cause Congenital Amputation. This condition is known to occur during the first trimester of pregnancy as that is when majority of birth defects tend to occur since this is when most of the organs of the body start to form and develop. The most accepted cause of Congenital Amputation is due to a condition called as Amniotic Band Syndrome. This condition occurs when the amnion or the inner fetal membrane tears or breaks without affecting the outer membrane. Several fibrous bands from this membrane float to the amniotic fluid and thus strangle the fetus such that the limbs which are in the process of formation get affected due to reduced supply of blood. A rupture of the amnion can be caused due to the following factors:

  • Using drugs like thalidomide during pregnancy or repetitively being exposed to chemicals
  • Females working where there is high incidence of radiation like in a nuclear power station or being a part of a radiation therapy team in a hospital
  • Females who have infections during pregnancy
  • Females prone to metabolic imbalances
  • Trauma.

How is Congenital Amputation Diagnosed?

In majority of the cases of Congenital Amputation, a diagnosis is not able to be made until the child is born with missing limbs. In some cases, an ultrasound prior to delivery can identify a missing limb and hence confirm the diagnosis of a Congenital Amputation.

What is the Treatment for Congenital Amputation?

It is seen that normally children with Congenital Amputation fare well and are able to perform as well or even better than children with normal hands and arms. This is done by fitting a prosthetic so as to allow them to go about their normal daily activities without any problems. Once a child is born with Congenital Amputation then a plastic surgeon or an occupational therapist can help in designing the exact prosthetic required for the child which will be best suited and provide excellent support for the child so that the child is able to be as normal as he or she possibly can and not be hampered in any way due to Congenital Amputation.

Can Congenital Amputation be Prevented?

When it comes to the question whether Congenital Amputation can be prevented or not, some studies suggest that this condition can be prevented if the mother takes certain precautions at the time of pregnancy like avoiding smoking, secondhand smoke, avoiding being near radiation or chemical exposures. If the mother works in an environment that is exposed to chemicals or radiation then staying off of work may prevent any harm to the child. It is also important for the mother to maintain a healthy diet and remain healthy so that the child is born in the best of health.