Syndactyly describes when two or more fingers or toes (digits) fused or joined together at birth (congenital). The fused digits look like they are webbed. Simple syndactyly occurs when the digits are only fused with skin and complex syndactyly occurs when the bones in the digits are fused. Complete syndactyly occurs when the digits are fused all the way to the tip and incomplete occurs when only a part of the digits are fused. While a baby is developing during a pregnancy, the fingers and toes start off as fused together. Around the 16th week of development, these fused digits begin to separate. However, in some babies, the separation does not happen, causing the fingers or toes to remain fused.
Syndactyly occurs in 1 out of every 2,5000 births. This condition generally affects Caucasians more so than African or Asian individuals and typically affects boys more often than girls. About half of the time the condition will affect both hands. Syndactyly can be seen as the only abnormality a baby has at birth (isolated syndactyly) or it can be seen as part of many abnormalities, known as a genetic condition or syndrome. The only treatment for syndactyly is surgery. If your child has syndactyly, speak with your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups can provide additional information and connect you with other families affected by syndactyly.