Limb Deficiencies - Diseases and Conditions Identified in Children

Limb Deficiencies (reduction defects)

Condition Description

A reduction deformity is the congenital absence or shortening of a limb or part of a limb. This is sometimes caused by prenatal exposure to certain drugs, such as thalidomide, though often the cause is unknown. It is sometimes detected before birth on prenatal ultrasound. Although there are many causes of limb reduction, women who take folic acid during pregnancy have a 30-40% reduced risk of having a child with a limb deformity. Lower limbs are affected less often than upper limbs. Treatment for limb reduction will be unique to each child since no two children will have the same issues. Surgery may be needed, to obtain stability of the lower limb for proper weight-bearing and in order to create a good fit for a prosthesis. Since many children have other problems besides the limb reduction, the treatment plans may be relatively straight-forward, or may involve multiple subspecialists also treating the associated conditions. The Shriner's Hospitals nationwide are very focused on assisting children and families with limb reduction conditions and can be an excellent source of resources and support. As children grow they will need to be evaluated regularly to be sure they are receiving the best possible assistance through surgery, prosthetics, or other adaptive equipment, to live a full and active life. Further surgeries, on their affected limb may be necessary, or perhaps they will be fitted with an advanced prosthesis that will give them new options for their activities. Limb reduction occurs in approximately 14 of 100,000 live births. Our program has been tracking limb deficiencies (reduction defects) among live births in select counties since 2005 and are gradually expanding statewide.

  • Using data from births to Hennepin and Ramsey county residents between 2009-20131, we found that 2.4 babies were born with limb deficiencies (reduction defects) per 10,000 births.
  • Using this data, we estimate about 17 babies are born with limb deficiencies (reduction defects) every year in Minnesota.

Parental education and support are essential, and local, regional and national organizations may be very helpful.

Condition Specific Organization:

Additional information and resources for families are available.