Clubfoot is a congenital (meaning present at birth) defect that affects the placement of the afflicted person's feet. It can present itself in a range of severity, from feet that simply point inward, to feet that have the bottom pointing upward. It can present itself in one or both feet; up to 50% of infants who have been diagnosed have bilateral clubfoot, meaning both feet are affected. Clubfoot itself is painless to infants who are born with it, but it is important for them to receive treatment right away to avoid future problems. The majority of people who have their condition treated as infants will have no adverse affects later in life.
Occasionally, clubfoot can be caused by the way a baby is positioned in its mother's womb. For example, if there is not enough amniotic fluid, the baby will need to squeeze into a smaller space than normal. However, the majority of children who have clubfoot get it as a result of a genetic anomaly. If one child in a family is born with clubfoot, the other children are more likely to also have the condition. Additionally, some people develop clubfoot in tandem with other medical conditions such as spina bifida or other nerve, muscle, or brain abnormalities. For this reason, children with clubfoot will need to undergo a medical evaluation as soon as the condition is discovered.
In the United States, approximately 1 in 1,000 children are born with clubfoot. Globally, 150,000 to 200,000 babies are born each year with the condition. Approximately 80% of these cases occur in low to middle income areas of the world, meaning that treatment is difficult for these families to attain.
If the condition is not treated, the affected person will not develop the ability to walk and is likely to experience a life of pain and disability. This is why I believe it is extremely important for all people to have access to afforable, quality medical care. If the condition is treated while the patient is young, many medical complications can be avoided. Babies and young children are also far more resilient than adults, which makes the condition easier and more painless to treat them.