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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects

Inheritance of Webbed Limbs (hand and feet)



I`m aged 27. My mother had webbed feet (2,3 of her middle fingers joined). She also has one extra feet finger. I was born with both my hands and feet webbed (all fingers joined) and my both hands also had another extra finger. I had many operations in my young age in all 10. My sixth extra finger was removed from both hands. Now I have only two finger of my both feet joined my hand fingers are separated but right hand fingers have some portion of skin between them. My hand fingers have got little curl shape due to so many operation at young age.

Remember no one else in my family (father or sibling or any one else) had this probem.

I want to inquire that if I get married and will have kids, what are the chances of this problem transferring to my children also? Is there any solution (any medicine) which can be given during pregnancy to stop this gene code to transfer to my future kids

Anxiously awaiting for your reply. Thanks.


Polydactyly means extra fingers and/or extra toes. The extra finger or toe can be just partially formed or fully formed. It can be on either the thumb side (preaxial polydactyly) or the pinky side (postaxial polydactyly).

Syndactyly means webbing of skin between the fingers and/or toes (digits). It can vary from incomplete webbing of the skin between two digits to complete union of digits and bones and nails being fused.

Sometimes these findings do not cause any problems if they are mild; however, such as in your case, there may be a lot of surgeries.

Having an extra finger or toe and/or webbing can run in families as an autosomal dominant condition - meaning there is a single gene responsible for the trait. In this case, the chance that someone could have a child with the same problem is 50%; that is, the person has a 1 out of 2 chance each time she gets pregnant to pass the gene on to her child and the child will then have the same condition. From what you describe, you inherited the polydactyly and syndactyly from your mother.

Also, polydactyly and syndactyly can be part of a genetic syndrome. The inheritance would depend on what the syndrome is. You would need to have your doctor tell you if your condition is part of a syndrome.

There are no medications that can change our genes. There may be ways to know during a pregnancy if the baby has the same problem you do, but you would need to have a specific diagnosis.

You are asking good questions. I would recommend that you talk to your doctor about your concerns or talk to a geneticist or genetic counselor. You can ask your doctor about a genetics clinic near you or you can locate a clinic in your area at the website below.

Related Resources:

National Society of Genetic Counselors Resource Center

For more information:

Go to the Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Anne   Matthews, RN, PhD Anne Matthews, RN, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University