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What is a Hand Difference

A congenital hand difference is a hand or arm difference that is present at birth. Some of the more common differences include:

  • having more or fewer than five fingers
  • fingers that will not bend or will not straighten
  • fingers that are joined together
  • bones in the hand or arm that are too short or missing

Congenital hand differences are not that common and occur in up to 30 children in every 10,000 births, depending on the population studied [1,2,3].

Sometimes a hand difference is diagnosed by ultrasound before birth, but more often, it is not found until the birth of the baby. Not a lot is known about the causes of hand differences, some are genetic in nature, a few due to issues with pregnancy but for the majority no cause is currently known.

In Australia, limited data about hand differences are available, leaving many questions unanswered about their prenatal diagnosis, occurrence and causes, surgical treatments and quality of life.

For more information on Hand Difference, or how to get support, please contact The Aussie Hands Foundation Inc.


1 Giele et al. (2001) J Hand Surg Am 26:628.

2 Goldfarb et al. (2017) J Paediatr Orthop 37:144.

3 Ekblom (2013) J Hand Surg 39:237.