What causes polydactyly?

No, it’s not a misspelled “polydactyl”, polydactyly is a condition where a person has more than 5 fingers in one or both hands or more than five toes on a foot.

Having more than five fingers per hand could occur for no reason whatsoever. It could be inherited via a trait that involves but one gene but could cause a number of variations.

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It also seems to be more common in specific ethnic groups. African Americans are more likely to inherit a 6th finger or toe. Polydactyly could also occur due to some genetic diseases could be what causes polydactyly.

Usually the extra finger could either be a non-functioning, extra stalk which could easily be removed (if there are no bones in it). Sometimes, though, the extra finger is fully developed and is completely operational. In cases such as a fully developed finger, surgery could be needed to remove it but what causes polydactyly?

What causes polydactyly could be a gene, GL13 – a transcriptional repressor, is known to be the cause in making a pattern of tissue and organ development, during the embryonic stage.

The 2 types of polydactyly are:

Pre-axial polydactyly is most common in Asians where the extra digit is on the large side of the hand or foot. However, with this type, other congenital abnormalities are also present as in the fusion of the skin between some of the fingers and toes.

Isolated post-axial polydactyly is commonly found in African – Americans and it is where the extra digits are seen on next to the smaller finger or toe side.

Another reason that could be what causes polydactyly is an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance, which means that it has nothing to do with sex, which means this could happen to both male and female and, a child whose parents has polydactyly has a 50% chance of acquiring the same thing.

For the most part, polydactyly is something that occurs during fetal development meaning, it is a genetic defect. This could be an isolated condition or could be with other symptoms as an aspect of multi – symptom disease. There are some isolated cases of polydactyly where what causes polydactyly is not known albeit there are cases where it is due to genetic defects. And yet, there are some cases where this could be due to exposure to toxins or anomalies in the womb.

The diagnosis of polydactyly is done during external observation, fetal sonogram and X-ray. And usually correction or removal of the extra digit is done by surgery. The surgery is usually done at around 1 year of age.

The prognosis for polydactyly is almost always excellent! However, should the cause of polydactyly be due to an underlying medical condition, the prognosis is dependent on the medical condition.

Polydactyly is also known as polydactylia, polydactylism or hyperdactyly. Whereas polydactyly is the presence of an extra digit, syndactyly is the fusion or webbing of 2 or more fingers.

Syndactyly could be a simple fusion where the fingers are connected by the skin or it could be more complicated where the fusion involves bones, nerves, vessels and nails. Syndactyly is also known as syndactylia or syndactylism.

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