By Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld, CEO and co-founder of MiracleFeet, the leading global children’s nonprofit organization on a mission to eliminate untreated clubfoot worldwide. 

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Image courtesy of Unsplash

In healthcare systems such as the UK’s, parents-to-be can ask for an ‘in utero diagnosis’, which is another name for prenatal diagnostic testing. This involves testing the fetus before birth to determine whether the fetus has certain abnormalities, including certain hereditary or spontaneous genetic disorders.

If the parents do not want to go ahead with this particular test, they can opt to wait until the routine ultrasound scan to be performed between 18 and 21 weeks of their pregnancy. During this ultrasound, clubfoot can usually be spotted by doctors and can allow time for parents to find out what to expect after their baby is born.

However, even if a child is not diagnosed with clubfoot prior to birth, this condition can be quickly recognised by doctors, nurses, or midwives as soon as the baby is born using a simple physical examination.

Receiving an early diagnosis can be valuable for parents as it affords them time to discuss the next steps with their doctor and put treatment plans in place.

Of course, treating clubfoot can be a long and involved journey for parents, and so building a strong relationship with the doctor can also help to ease worry. Trained providers will guide you through the process and offer their expert advice on any questions that may arise.

Following any diagnosis, the most important thing for expecting mothers to do is to remain calm and not overly worry - as high levels of stress that continue for a long time may cause health problems, like high blood pressure and increase the likelihood of premature birth.

While the exact cause of clubfoot is still largely unknown, research suggests that genetic factors may play a role in 25% of cases, so if a mother knows of someone in her family who was born with clubfoot, she may opt to check if her baby has it.

Although receiving a diagnosis of clubfoot may come as a shock, firstly don’t panic! The good news is that more than 95% of children who are treated early can experience active, healthy lives, with minimal if any lasting effects. You might be thinking “I’ve never seen anyone with clubfoot”—and that’s because it is so treatable. If you live in the UK or a country with advanced medical care, the odds that your child will experience significant impairment from clubfoot are close to zero.

MiracleFeet is the largest global non-profit organization working to ensure that every child born with clubfoot has access to the medical care they need to thrive. Founded in 2010, MiracleFeet has already helped 64,000+ children across 29 countries. Through partnerships with local healthcare providers, they work to bring clubfoot treatment to countries lacking adequate access to this inexpensive treatment—costing only 350 GBP per child on average. With the help of MiracleFeet, this care is either free or very low-cost for the families who require it.