Limb defects occur in about 1 in 2,560 births, with defects of the arms/hands being much more common than those of the legs/feet (0.36 per 1000 and 0.14 per 1000 births, respectively).
DEVELOPMENT, DETECTION AND TREATMENT
Limb defects are a diverse collection of conditions, each developing through a different prenatal process, probably with different underlying causes. Proper classification is critical.
Although sometimes diagnosed by prenatal ultrasound, there is no systematic screening program for limb defects.
Management of limb defects includes prostheses and physical/occupational therapy. Surgery is often needed in lower limb defects to straighten and stabilize the legs for prosthesis fitting.
Other malformations are present in 30%-50% of babies with limb reduction defects—those with absent or shortened limbs or missing fingers/toes. About 15%-20% will die before age 1, mostly due to associated defects. The average lifetime cost for medical treatment, educational services and lost productivity for is $99,000 for upper limb reduction defects and $199,000 for lower limb reduction defects.