Limb malformations are relatively rare in comparison to other common birth defects. However, a child born with a limb malformation is easily identified at birth because the physical abnormality is so apparent. Most limb defects are due to strands of fibrous tissue that can float in the amniotic fluid during pregnancy. These strands can become entangled in the digits or arms and cause constricting, disruptive problems. The most common limb defects involve only one arm or leg and usually occur as an isolated finding that does not represent a more serious genetic or inherited problem.
Most limb defects occur without association of other congenital abnormalities. However, a small portion of children with limb defects has more than one limb involved and has associated abnormalities. Often these problems can be due to an identifiable malformation or chromosome syndrome.
Information about musculoskeletal defects and limb malformations can be found at the following sites:
*Birth defects image credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities