Ask the Expert: Should I Be Concerned About My Child's Bowlegs? |

Ask the Expert: Should I Be Concerned About My Child's Bowlegs?

Understanding bowlegs in babies and children with a Specialist Orthopaedic Surgeon from Mediclinic Al Qusais

Posted on

21 October 2020

Last updated on 22 October 2020
Ask the Expert: Should I Be Concerned About My Child's Bowlegs?

These conditions in kids are actually quite common and non-threatening, however...

The mother looked anxious with her toddler son in my consulting room. “My friend asked if my son’s legs were bowed, when we met at a party, and ever since I have been weighed down by this constant doubt. That’s why I have come to consult you today”, she said.

This is a question that would have crossed every mother’s mind at least once: "Should I wait and see, or should I consult a doctor right away?" It becomes even more confusing when comparing with other children of a similar age.

To help answer your questions about bowed legs in babies and children, Dr. Oommen Mathew from Mediclinic compiled this handy guide.

What are bowlegs?

Bowlegs are a condition in which the legs curve outward at an angle at the knees while the child’s feet are together.

Babies are born with bowlegs because of their folded position in the uterus, so the condition is normal in infancy. This is called ‘physiologic bowlegs’ and is considered a normal part of a child's growth and development.

As a child starts walking, the bowing might increase a bit and then get better. Children who start walking at a younger age have more noticeable bowing.

In most kids, this outward curving of the legs corrects on its own by around the age of 3. The legs might even look curved inward (knock-knees) after a while but usually straightens to adult orientation by age 7 or 8.

When do you need to consult a doctor?

  • If the bowing seems to be excessive or increasing progressively
  • The deformity has not reasonably corrected by the age of 3
Bowlegs treatment in Dubai
  • It is asymmetric (different on both sides)
  • If the child has issues walking, running or playing

The doctor will do an assessment and see if an X-ray or blood investigations are required.

What are the other causes for bowing of the legs?

Vitamin D deficiency

'Rickets' is a bone growth problem caused by a deficiency of vitamin D or calcium.

It is a fairly common problem in the UAE due to a lack of adequate sunlight exposure. Rarely, rickets can also be due to a genetic problem that affects how the body uses vitamin D.

Blount’s disease

It is an abnormality of the growth plate in the upper part of the shinbone (tibia). It is more common in children who are overweight, who started walking at an early age or have a family member who has had the condition.

By the age of 3 years, however, the bowing will worsen and an obvious problem can often be seen in an x-ray.

Other less common conditions

Abnormal bone development or other less common conditions can lead to deformities.

What are the treatments for bowlegs?

Most toddlers with bowlegs usually don’t need treatment as they will correct on their own with age. However if the condition has an underlying cause or is more severe it may need specific management, such as:

  • Regular checkups so the orthopaedics specialist/pediatrician can monitor your child’s leg growth and development
  • Vitamin D and calcium supplements to treat and cure rickets
  • Braces or other orthopedic devices may be suggested for children under age 3 or with mild to moderate deformities
  • Surgery may be needed for children over age 3 who have Blount disease, significant deformity or other serious conditions

The bottom line is that most cases of bowlegs in toddlers under 3 are normal and will correct on its own.

If in doubt, it may be better to consult your doctor.

Authored by Dr. Oommen Mathew at Mediclinic in Dubai

Dr. Oommen Mathew

Dr. Oommen Mathew
Specialist Orthopaedic Surgeon
Mediclinic Al Qusais and Mediclinic Welcare Hospital

Mediclinic Welcare Hospital
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Mediclinic Welcare Hospital
Founded in 1998, Mediclinic Welcare Hospital is a modern, multi-specialty 127 bed medical facility providing attentive, cost-effective, quality care of an international standard. Our specialists are highly qualified and experienced within their particular fields, and all of our staff members are trained to be fully conversant with best customer care practices and quality in the delivery of services.

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