Bowleggedness is a common trait in infants in newborns. When babies are growing in the womb, they are in cramped quarters and their legs cannot extend fully until they’ve been born. This causes their legs to stay slightly curved for a few years after birth. Usually, the trait goes away on its own once your baby starts walking, and most toddlers’ legs have completely straightened out by age three. However, if you notice that your baby still seems bowlegged after he or she has turned three and is comfortable walking, it’s time you bring it up to the pediatrician.

It’s impossible to tell what’s causing bowlegs in an infant, but it’s safe to assume that the trait was caused by his or her position in the womb. By age three, Bowleggedness could be a sign of a more serious condition called Blount’s disease. Blount’s disease is a condition in which the tibia bone is actually curved. In infants, the problems stays relatively under control, but it gets much worse when they begin applying pressure to the bone by walking.

At age three, a doctor should examine your baby’s bowlegs. Diagnosing Blount’s disease is as easy as taking a simple X-ray and looking at the curvature of each bone in your baby’s legs. Once it is diagnosed, your baby’s pediatrician might either recommend bracing or surgery. Surgery is obviously expensive and invasive, but bracing can be emotionally damaging to a child who is only just learning to walk. Most doctors recommend bracing as a first attempt and then surgery if that doesn’t correct the problem in a timely manner. African American babies and males tend to have Blount’s disease more often, so you should be especially aware of your baby’s leg orientation if he or she falls into either of those groups.

If Blount’s disease goes undetected and untreated, there is a chance that it could seriously interfere with your child’s growth for the rest of his or her life. When the bone is improperly curved, it will put unnecessary pressure on the joints, which could permanently damage them. To prevent such permanent damage, monitor the development of your baby’s legs closely. If the bowleggedness seems to go away on its own when your baby begins walking, you don’t have to be concerned about Blount’s. If your baby doesn’t seem to grow out of it, you should get him tested immediately.

Source: Sanjeev Sabhawal: Blount Disease. The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery Volume 91 Issue 7 July 2009

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