Bowlegs : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Alternate Names : Genu varum

Definition

Bowlegs is a condition in which the knees remain wide apart when a person stands with the feet and ankles together.

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Infants are born bowlegged because of their folded position in the uterus. The infant’s bowed legs begin to straighten once the child starts to walk and the legs begin to bear weight (about 12 to 18 months old).

Normal appearance is usually attained by the time the child is 3 years old. At this time, a child can usually stand with the ankles together and the knees just touch. If the bowed legs persist into this period, the child is called bowlegged.

Severely bowed legs can be a sign of rickets. Rickets is caused by a vitamin D deficiency, and in the United States, breast-fed infants with dark skin are most at risk. Other causes of bowleggedness include Blount’s disease, bone dysplasias, and lead or fluoride intoxication.


Review Date : 12/1/2008
Reviewed By : Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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