Extra Finger or Toe
Five children in 10,000 are born with an extra finger or toe. ‘Polydactyly’ is the medical name for this, and in some babies the extra digit appears fully formed, while in others there’s just a little stump. In half of all cases, the condition is hereditary. It rarely means there’s any other physical problem.
Years ago, physicians used to tie up the extra finger or toe, stopping the blood supply so that eventually the flesh died. The extra finger or toe has nerves just like any other part of the body so this was very painful! Doctors don’t do this anymore, and it is possible to have extra digits removed by surgery, though not all local hospitals will do this. The operation is a simple one done under a local anaesthetic, and once the hand has healed kids will have no other problems.
If you don’t or can’t have an extra finger or toe removed, doctors recommend taping it up to the next one. This not only makes it less obvious, but makes it easier putting on shoes, gloves etc.
Though having an extra finger or toe can be inconvenient under some circumstances, it shouldn’t actually impair kids’ ability to do things, but as they grow older and go to school, they may feel self-conscious and suffer from teasing. The psychological aspect can be harder to handle than the physical feature. For that reason most parents do opt for surgery, but there are plenty of celebrities who’ve spoken about their own experiences of polydactyly, offering proof that it’s completely normal. Bond girl and St Trinians star Gemma Arterton was born with six fingers on each hand, and subsequently had them removed. “I feel like we’re one-step ahead,” she’s said. “a sign of things to come. We could do more stuff if we had extra fingers – faster texting, emailing, better guitar-playing.”
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