Syndactyly is a congenital abnormality when two or more fetal fingers are fused. This condition is caused by a disturbance in the process of dividing the fingers of the fetus. Syndactyly is most often found between the middle and ring fingers.
At 6–8 weeks of gestation, there are membranes that protect the fingers and toes of the fetus. Furthermore, the membrane will disappear and begin to form perfect fingers.
However, in fetuses with syndactyly, the process of forming fingers is disrupted so that full division does not occur. As a result, some or all of the fingers or toes of the fetus are fused.
Syndactyly is the most common congenital hand deformity. According to some studies, there are about 1 in 2000 babies born with syndactyly.
Causes of Syndactyly
Syndactyly is caused by the failure of the formation and division of the fingers of the fetus at the sixth to eighth week of gestation. Several factors are thought to increase the risk of syndactyly, including:
- Have a genetic disorder
- Have a family that suffers from syndactyly
- Smoking while pregnant
- Experiencing an infection during pregnancy
- Using thalidomide or chemotherapy drugs while pregnant
Syndactyly can also be a sign of several other types of congenital disorders, such as Apert syndrome, Moebius syndrome , and Saethre-Chotzen.
Syndactyly is characterized by two or more fingers or toes joined together. The unification can occur in a simplex (simple) or complex. In simplex conditions, only the skin of the fingers is fused. While in complex conditions, the skin merges with the bones and other finger structures.
Syndactyly itself does not cause complaints. However, syndactyly can make children not confident to socialize. In addition, syndactyly that occurs in many fingers can interfere with the function of the child's hands and feet.
When to see a doctor
Check with your child to the doctor if syndactyly interferes with the function of the movements of the hands and feet and makes it difficult to walk. Examination needs to be done so that the doctor can determine the type of syndactyly suffered, then determine the treatment to improve the appearance and function of the fingers.
Doctors can diagnose syndactyly in newborns through a physical exam. However, syndactyly can also be detected earlier with a pregnancy ultrasound .
X-ray examination can be done to check whether the syndactyly suffered by the patient is of the simplex or complex type. The doctor will also carry out examinations to detect structural abnormalities in other limbs.
Handling syndactyly is by surgery to separate the joined fingers. The operation can be done if the child is over 1 year old.
Some children may need skin grafts to cover the separated fingers. Generally, skin grafts are taken from other parts of the body, such as the folds of the elbow or wrist.
If more than two fingers are attached, the doctor may perform several operations. This is to prevent complications during the surgical procedure. Furthermore, the doctor will recommend physical therapy to improve the child's ability to move the hands and fingers.
Syndactyly can cause a decrease in the quality of life for children, especially if more and more fingers are fused together. This makes it more difficult for children to do activities, such as holding. In addition, children can experience stress , decreased self-confidence, and are at risk of experiencing bullying or bullying.
Syndactyly is difficult to prevent, because this disease is classified as a congenital abnormality. However, there are several efforts that prospective mothers can make to reduce the risk of the fetus experiencing syndactyly, namely:
- Get vaccinated before pregnancy
- Undergo a TORCH examination before pregnancy
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and clean water
- Avoid being around people who are sick
- Eat a complete and balanced nutritious diet
- Do not take thalidomide before or during pregnancy
- Undergo genetic testing when planning a pregnancy