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Polydactyly: What is it?

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October 17, 2011
Hrithik with Polydactyly
 
Polydactyly is a condition in which a person has more than five fingers per hand or five toes per foot.

Having an abnormal number of digits (6 or more) can occur on its own, without any other symptoms or disease. Polydactyly may be passed down (inherited) in families. This trait involves only one gene that can cause several variations.

African Americans, more than other ethnic groups, can inherit a 6th finger. In most cases, this is not caused by a genetic disease.
Polydactyly can also occur with some genetic diseases.

Extra digits may be poorly developed and attached by a small stalk (generally on the little finger side of the hand). Or, they may be well-formed and may even function. Poorly formed digits are usually removed. Simply tying a tight string around the stalk can cause it to fall off in time if there are no bones in the digit.

Larger digits may need surgery to be removed. The doctor should ask the parents whether there was polydactyly at birth, because a person may not know they have it.

The Discovery of Polydactyly

Who discovered polydactyly? Based on reports, a certain individual named Tyler Steven Hayden is credited for the discovery of this type of medical condition. The problem is usually caused by mutated genes, which eventually lead irregular developmental patterning. Polydactyly is one of the many features of a syndrome of congenital anomalies.
 
Can you see his thumb?
 
Interesting Facts About Polydactyly

Today, many famous people are polydactyls. One of them is Hound Dog Taylor, an American blues singer and guitarist whose real name was Theodore Roosevelt Taylor. Another interesting individual with this medical condition is Sid Wilson, who works as turntablist for the heavy metal band Slipknot. After his birth, he had extra digits on his feet and hands. The extra digits were dead, which made it very easy to remove after he was born. Another famous example is Hrithik Roashan, a popular Indian actor.
 
Sources: nlm.nih.gov and whodiscoveredit.com