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What causes webbed toes in humans?

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Syndactyly, a condition that causes webbed or fused toes or fingers, is one of the most common types of birth abnormality.

Researchers do not understand precisely why webbed digits develop, but, in some cases, there is a definite genetic cause.



Usually, surgeons will correct webbed digits when children are quite young to prevent complications.

Most corrective surgeries are successful and give the child full function of their digits on a hand or foot that appears normal.

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What are the causes?

Syndactyly is one of the most common birth abnormalities, affecting an estimated 1 in every 2,000–3,000 children born each year.

It occurs when the toes or fingers do not separate correctly during fetal development.

Syndactyly can also occur when the skin or another body structure does not heal properly after a significant injury, such as a burn.

Syndactyly often presents as webbing, so people often refer to the condition as webbed toes or fingers.

The majority of cases of webbed toes occur when the skin fails to separate during fetal development.

However, more severe cases of syndactyly may also involve other parts of the body, including:

  • bones

  • blood vessels

  • muscles

  • nervesSyndactyly may appear as a symptom of another syndrome or medical condition, but most cases are non-syndromic, meaning that they have no apparent cause.

    Currently, there are 300 different syndromes linked to syndactyly, most of which are genetic conditions. The most common ones include:

    • Down syndrome

    • Apert syndrome

    • Crouzon syndrome

    There is a well-established genetic basis for some types of syndactyly, and most people would consider webbed toes to be an inherited condition. However, researchers still do not understand the full range of factors that cause the condition to develop because each case is different.

    According to the available research, boys are more likely to develop syndactyly than girls. And Caucasian children seem to be more likely to develop webbed digits than children from other ethnic backgrounds.

    Although it can affect any of the toes or the spaces between them, syndactyly most frequently develops between the second and third toes.

    What are the main symptoms?

    Each person with syndactyly tends to experience different symptoms, as webbed toes may be:

    • Unilateral or bilateral: Impacting only one side of the body or both.

    • Severe, moderate, or mild: With digits almost entirely fused, with digits partially fused, or with only minor webbing between digits.

    • Symmetric or asymmetric: Appearing alike and in the same region on both sides of the body, or appearing dissimilar or in different places on each side of the body.

    • Simple or complex: Involving only two digits or a few bones, or including multiple digits or bones.

    • Painful or asymptomatic.

    Minor cases may not interfere much with toe or foot movement and function. However, if the toes are severely webbed or fused, the condition can be disabling.

    What are the treatment options?

    In most cases, it is possible to correct webbed toes surgically, and this usually occurs between the ages of 12 and 18 months before full development has happened.

    It is best to fix webbed toes before they can cause any joint malformation.

    A doctor will usually order an X-ray or ultrasound of the webbed area to determine exactly which structures it involves and the best surgical approach.

    They may also order blood tests and chromosomal tests to check whether the webbing relates to another condition, or is syndromic, particularly if a child has other physical signs of a genetic syndrome.

    The exact surgical procedure to correct webbed toes depends on the severity of the webbing and the structures it involves.

    Typical surgical procedure

    In most cases, once the child is unconscious, the surgeon will cut through the webbing in a zigzag manner along the midline point.

    Cutting the webbing in this way will help to prevent the scarring from interfering with healthy growth and development. If any structures other than the skin are fused, the surgeon will carefully work to divide them as they make the zigzag cuts.

    The surgeon will sometimes stitch skin grafts, or transplanted pieces of healthy skin, over the top of the exposed wounds to protect them as they heal. This will also minimize scarring by reducing tension as the wound heals. The surgeon will usually take skin grafts from the child’s inner groin area or the back of the upper arm.

    They will then wrap layers of bandages around the affected area, or fix it in a cast that will cover and immobilize the corrected toes to protect them from injury as they heal. In total, most surgeries to repair webbed digits take 2–5 hours.

    Recovery time

    Most children will have to stay in the hospital for a few days after the surgery. There is usually some bruising, swelling, and nail discoloration on the toes. After discharge from the hospital, children are likely to need pain medications as they recover.

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Health & Lifestyle

Climate change forces El Paso to make treated sewage water turn into drinking water

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As the global climate changes and water becomes an increasingly scarce resource, a number of cities such as India, Australia has earlier express their concern to reduce water shortage.



The authorities has disclosed to her citizens stating that “What we are seeing is a systematic increase in temperature, so we’re seeing the snow-melt runoff earlier…and more rapid melt than average. And again, for a given level of snow-pack, less runoff actually reaching the river and reaching our reservoir.

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However, in a bid to mitigate the water shortages,  El Paso is set to become one of the first cities in the US to treat sewage water and turn it into drinking water.

Chief technical officer of El Paso Water, Mr Gilbert Trejo said that the facility to treat sewage water with multiple steps of filtration such as carbon and UV filtration to make sure no pathogens or microbes are present.

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Adding that It will help to solve a major supply problem in the city and what’s more, some locals even say it tastes better.

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Food & Cuisine

Satellites warn African farmers of pest parasitic diseases

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Prof Charlotte Watts, chief scientific adviser for the UK’s Department for International Development, which funds the plant doctor scheme, says a new initiative with CABI and the UK Space Agency (UKSA) will use the network to prevent, rather than just reduce infestations.



When speaking to the newsmen, she expressed that the idea is to use satellite data collected by the UKSA to develop a system that is able to predict when pest infestations will strike a week or more in advance.

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It is also designed to inform the farmers through mobile phone alert for them to take precautions, adding that it will help boost farmers incomes and mitigate poverty rate.

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The modern forecast is being used in Kenya, Ghana and Zambia and will be rolled out soon to other part of the world.

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