Cleft Hand

What is cleft hand?

Cleft hand is a rare condition in which the center of a child’s hand is missing a finger or fingers. Cleft hand makes up less than 5 percent of all congenital hand differences. Approximately one in 50,000 to one in 100,000 babies are born with cleft hand.

Cleft hand occurs when a child’s hand doesn’t develop properly during pregnancy. The condition can sometimes be detected on a routine prenatal ultrasound. After the baby is born, the deformity is visible.

Although cleft hand usually affects both hands, it can also occur in only one hand. Children born with cleft hand may also have cleft foot. All affected children, except those with very mild cases, need one or more surgeries, usually starting in their first year of life.

Typically, a cleft hand is missing a finger or fingers in the middle of the hand and has a pronounced V-shaped cleft in that space. But not all cleft hands look the same. Cleft hands may exhibit a variety of differences such as missing bones and transverse bones. In some cases, the cleft occurs on the thumb side or pinkie side of the hand.

What are the symptoms of cleft hand?

Not all cleft hands look the same. Typically, the center portion of the hand is missing a finger or fingers and there’s a V-shaped cleft in that space. Less often, clefts occur on the thumb side or the little finger side of the hand.

In the majority of children with cleft hand, the condition is an isolated occurrence that affects only the hands. Your child’s doctor will check for other associated differences or syndromes, including cleft foot, cleft lip, and cleft palate.

What causes cleft hand?

Cleft hand is congenital, meaning babies are born with the condition. It develops during pregnancy when the bones of the hand are forming. The exact cause is unknown, but scientists and doctors are learning more and more about the possible genetic causes (passed from parent to child).

How we care for cleft hand at Boston Children’s Hospital

The Orthopedic Center’s Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program and our Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery’s Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery Program have treated thousands of babies and children with cleft hand and other hand problems. We are experienced treating conditions that range from routine to highly complex, and can provide your child with expert diagnosis, treatment, and care. We also offer the benefits of some of the most advanced clinical and scientific research in the world.

Our Orthopedic Center is nationally known as the preeminent center for the care of children and young adults with a wide range of developmental, congenital, neuromuscular, sports-related, traumatic, and post-traumatic problems of the musculoskeletal system.

Our Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery is one of the largest and most experienced pediatric plastic and oral surgery centers anywhere in the world. We provide comprehensive care and treatment for a wide variety of congenital and acquired conditions, including hand deformities.