Meromelia is a rare congenital condition that affects the development of one or more limbs in the fetus. It is characterized by the partial absence of a limb, with the presence of a hand or foot. It results in a shrunken and deformed extremity. Meromelia can affect any limb, but it is more common in the upper limbs than the lower limbs.
The exact cause of meromelia is not known, but it may be related to genetic disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, environmental factors, or complications of prenatal procedures. Some of the known risk factors include:
The use of thalidomide, a drug that was prescribed for morning sickness in the 1950s and 1960s, but was later found to cause severe birth defects.
Exposure to radiation, chemicals, infections, or drugs during pregnancy.
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS), a diagnostic test that involves taking a sample of placental tissue for genetic testing.
Meromelia can be diagnosed by ultrasound during pregnancy or by physical examination after birth. The severity and type of meromelia vary depending on which part of the limb is missing and how much of it is affected. Some of the common types of meromelia are:
Phocomelia, which means \”seal limb\”, where the limb is shortened and the hand or foot is attached close to the body.
Amelia, which means \”without limb\”, where the entire limb is missing.
Polymelia, which means \”many limbs\”, where there are extra limbs or parts of limbs attached to the body.
The treatment of meromelia depends on the functional and cosmetic needs of the individual. Some of the possible options include:
Artificial limbs (prosthetics), which can help with mobility and daily activities.
Surgery, which can correct some deformities, remove extra limbs, or improve the attachment of prosthetics.
Rehabilitation, which can provide physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychological support.
Meromelia is a rare and complex condition that requires multidisciplinary care and lifelong follow-up. People with meromelia can lead fulfilling lives with proper treatment and support.
Meromelia is a rare condition that affects about 1 in 10,000 live births. The exact incidence and prevalence of different types of meromelia are not well known, but some studies have reported the following rates:
Phocomelia: 0.2 to 0.5 per 100,000 live births.
Amelia: 0.6 to 1.1 per 100,000 live births.
Polymelia: 0.1 to 0.2 per 100,000 live births.
The prognosis of meromelia depends on the type and severity of the defect, as well as the presence of other associated anomalies. Some of the possible complications of meromelia include:
Impaired growth and development of the affected limb and the rest of the body.
Reduced mobility and function of the affected limb and the adjacent joints.
Pain, infection, or skin problems in the affected limb or the prosthetic device.
Social stigma, discrimination, or psychological distress due to the appearance of the affected limb.
People with meromelia may face various challenges in their daily lives, such as accessing education, employment, health care, and social services. They may also experience emotional issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, or isolation. Therefore, it is important to provide them with adequate support and resources to help them cope and thrive.