Amniotic Band Syndrome

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

Requires Prompt Treatment

Imagine you’re expecting a new baby. What do you feel? Most parents would say some mixture of excitement and nervousness—along with a slew of other conflicting emotions that come with the life changes brought on by a child! Your feelings would be even more complicated if you learned that your child has developed a problem in the womb. Congenital birth defects can be serious or benign, but either way, they add stress to a pregnancy. Some, like amniotic band syndrome, are hard to predict and can significantly affect the development of your child’s feet and legs.

Unknown Causes

Amniotic Band SyndromeAmniotic band syndrome (ABS) is a rare birth defect. Loose strands of the amniotic sac that surrounds the unborn fetus within the uterus can wrap around some part of the baby. If they pull tight, they can cause birth defects or even amputate limbs. No one knows exactly what causes fibers from the lining in the sac to pull loose. Current evidence presents it as a random event, not as genetic or hereditary. What damage occurs depends on where and how tightly the band is wrapped.

When one of those loose fibers wraps around your baby’s toes, feet, ankles, or even legs, he or she can develop a number of problems that will need to be dealt with after birth. Sometimes your child may only have a groove where the strand was. Other times the growth of the bones in their lower limbs may be stunted or the toes may grow together. If the band presses on a nerve, it can cause clubfoot. Sometimes, the fiber may be so tight it cuts off all blood flow to the rest of the limb, amputating it.

Treating the Tissues

How your baby’s ABS is treated depends largely on the severity of the condition and what was affected. Many of the problems can be addressed within a few months of birth. Conjoined toes can be surgically corrected and reconstructed as best as possible. Simple grooves, especially if they are shallow, can be left alone since they don’t affect the function of the feet and ankles. You can, however, have the doctor surgically “fill in” the groove so your baby’s foot appears normal. More serious problems will need intervention immediately after birth. In cases where the band is very tight and may be damaging blood vessels, nerves, or the whole limb, your child will need to have the strand carefully cut and the soft tissues repaired right away.

Fortunately, conditions like amniotic band syndrome are rare. If you do discover that your child has ABS in the lower limbs during an ultrasound, take action now to make plans for proactive treatment to protect your baby’s feet after his or her birth. Contact the experts at Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston to discuss your options and possible paths for correction and treatment. Visit the website contact page or call the office at (281) 497-2850 to reach us.