Clubfoot. Clubfoot is a common birth defect occurring in approximately 1 out of every 1000 births. It affects males more often than females and can affect one or both feet. Clubfoot should be diagnosed at birth (although sometimes doctors can diagnose clubfoot while the baby is still in the womb) and treatment should begin within the first weeks of the baby’s life. The most common treatment for clubfoot is called the Ponseti Method. This method of treatment involves multiple castings of the foot that gradually coax the foot into the corrected position. Most children make a 100 percent recovery, although the corrected foot tends to be smaller and stiffer than normal.
Flat Feet. Most infants appear to have flat feet due to baby fat that conceals the arch of their foot. Flat feet is relatively common among children (some studies estimate as many as 20 percent of children have flat feet) although it usually goes away in early childhood. Spending time barefoot will help your child develop healthy arches. If you think your child may have flat feet, it might be time to take the shoes off! Some children will not grow out of their flat feet and may experience pain in their feet, ankles, knees, hips and backs as a result of their condition. Talk to your podiatrist about orthotics (special orthopedic padding) for your child. These orthotic devices will help support your child’s feet and encourage the muscles in the arch of the foot to develop.
Ingrown Toenails. Some children are genetically predisposed to ingrown toenails. The shape of their nail bed (the skin that lies beneath the nail) or the nail itself may encourage the nail to grow into the skin. This can especially be problematic among children or adolescents who lack the proper foot hygiene to properly care for their toenails. Cut younger children’s toenails for them (straight across and not too short), and remind older children to cut their toenails regularly.
Foot problems in children should be treated early and aggressively to prevent long-term deformity. You may want to take your child to a podiatrist if you notice unusual bumps on your child’s foot; if you notice signs of infection (look for redness, swelling or discharge); if you notice uneven wear on your child’s shoes (this tends to occur when your child is either flat footed or has high arches); if you notice blotchiness in the skin or toenail problems; if your child has trouble walking or trips over his own two feet; or if your child complains of foot pain or tenderness.