More Than 2,000 Babies Are Born Each Year With Limb Difference

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and the National Birth Defects Prevention Network have published a new study presenting updated national prevalence estimates for select birth defects from 2004 to 2006. The data shows that more than 2,000 babies are born in the U.S. each year with differences in either arms, legs or both.

“Children born today with limb difference can completely thrive,” said Kendra Calhoun, president & CEO of the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA). “Advancements in prosthetic devices and more open minds in communities across the country open doors for these youth in ways that a decade ago may not have been available.”

The Amputee Coalition leads the country in providing outreach to the 2 million Americans living with limb loss and in leading the fight for limb loss prevention. “The ACA offers a program for parents whose children have limb difference/loss,” said Calhoun. “This program provides information and education as well as connection to a network of parents who share their experiences.”

The ACA also holds an annual youth camp, the Amputee Coalition of America’s Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp, which children age 10-17 attend in July. The 5-day summer camp offers a full range of activities that include fishing, swimming, zip lining, canoeing, basketball, archery and more. The camp is held at the Joy Outdoor Education Center between Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio. All expenses and airfare are covered for the campers. The camp inspires campers to take on new challenges, be independent, test themselves and build new friendships.

“We often want our children to ‘be themselves’ and embrace their differences, but we also know that at the same time, we all have a need to be ‘just like everyone else,’” said Julie Frank, mother of Jake Frank, a 12-year-old with congenital limb difference from Bismarck, North Dakota. “The latter is especially hard for a young amputee. The ACA camp provides both to their campers. It is an environment where they are actually challenged and recognized for their uniqueness while being with others who are just like them. As a parent, I couldn’t ask for more. My son comments on how wonderful it is to be with others who understand what it is like to be like him – an amputee. He can’t wait to return, and he wants to return as a counselor someday.”

The 2004-2006 study showed the following data:

Estimated annual incidence – Each year, there were an estimated 2,155 live births involving a reduction or difference of upper or lower limbs. There were 1,454 upper-limb and 701 lower-limb differences.

Estimated cases per birth – A reduction or difference of the upper limbs occurred in one in 2,869 live births, while a reduction or difference of the lower limb occurred in one in 5,949 live births.

Estimated national prevalence – There was a reduction or difference of upper limbs in 3.49 per 10,000 live births, and 1.68 per 10,000 live births for lower limbs.

The study used data from 14 limb difference tracking programs in the U.S. to generate national estimates for incidence and prevalence on a variety of limb differences, including congenital limb differences.

Source: The Amputee Coalition of America (