(09/13/13) - It is the most common birth defect, yet most people have either
never heard of it, or do not know what clubfoot actually is.
The last thing any parent wants to hear is that their baby was born with a birth defect, but one in 500 babies is born with club foot. It is not an easy fix, but it is something that can be corrected.
Comedian Damon Wayans, quarterback Troy Aikman, and Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi all share the same condition with baby Kilian Ferner. Clubfoot affects boys twice as often as girls.
It was something Kilian's mom, Erin, had never heard of. "I thought the word clubfoot was really scary and I thought it meant they had this foot that didn't work, and it followed behind them and they dragged it with them wherever they went."
Clubfoot is one or both feet twisting inward. Kilian had it in both.
"It's a lot of fear and it's a lot of, you know, will he be OK," Erin says.
But with advances in treatment, Dr. John Herzenberg says it's nothing to be afraid of. "Yes, your child will be able to grow up and play sports and do just about anything he wants."
The best treatment option is the Ponseti method, which uses a series of casts over several months to straighten the foot, Herzenberg says. "It's kind of like braces on your teeth where you move it slowly, little by little, about 10 degrees every week until the foot is twisted out."
A difference is often visible by six months. Kilian had seven casts in all.
Each cast is covered in writing, Erin says, help tell a story, "each week there was a different quote about how we overcame, you know, whatever we had to cross that week."
The first reads, "If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere."
The last bears the inscription, "'This one, fingers crossed, is my last one. This makes my mommy happy because she can't wait to hold and kiss my little feet.'"
Dr. Herzenberg says that Kilian had true clubfoot on one foot and "positional" foot on the other. Treatment for a "positional" clubfoot is much less difficult than a true clubfoot.
Herzenberg says once out of the casts, babies with clubfoot then must wear special shoes for three months to keep their feet in the right place.
Then, just at night until age four.
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