Metatarsus Adductus

What is Metatarsus adductus?

Metatarsus adductus, also known as metatarsus varus, is a common foot deformity noted at birth that causes the front half of the foot, or forefoot, to turn inward.

  • May be "flexible" (the foot can be straightened to a degree by hand) or "non-flexible" (the foot cannot be straightened by hand).
  • Occurs in about one of every 1,000 to 2,000 live births.
  • Babies with metatarsus adductus are at an increased risk for developmental dysplasia of the hip.

What causes metatarsus adductus?

The cause of metatarsus adductus remains unknown. However, several factors may put your child at greater risk, including

  • family history of metatarsus adductus
  • position of the baby in the uterus, especially with breech presentations
  • insufficient amniotic fluid when the child is in the uterus
  • sleeping position of the baby (babies sleeping on their stomach may increase the tendency of the feet to turn inward).

Does metatarsus adductus cause any other complications?

Babies with metatarsus adductus may be at an increased risk for developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), a condition of the hip joint in which the top of the thigh (femur) slips in and out of its socket, because the socket is too shallow to keep the joint intact. DDH can cause differences in leg length, or cause your child to walk with a limp.

Boston Children's approach to metatarsus adductus

Metatarsus adductus is a common problem that can be corrected. Regardless of how much the forefoot turns inward, starting treatment immediately after birth improves your child's prognosis. But babies born with metatarsus adductus rarely need treatment since this condition often corrects itself as the baby grows. At Children's, your child's doctor may give you tips on how to ease this process along naturally. Doctors at Children's would recommend surgery for only the most severe cases of metatarsus adductus.