Bowlegs (Child)

Bowlegs is when the legs bend outward from the knees to the ankles. It is also called Genu Varum. Most babies have bowlegs at birth. It almost always gets better on its own by age 2. However, it may worsen for a time before that as the child starts to walk.

If it doesn’t get better by age 2 or if only one leg is bowed, contact your child’s healthcare provider. It may be a sign of a more serious disease such as rickets or Blount disease. Your child’s healthcare provider would need to do further tests to make this diagnosis.

Home care

Babies who only drink breastmilk by age 2 are at risk for vitamin D and calcium deficiency. They should be given daily supplements of vitamin D until they are able to drink at least 32 ounces of vitamin D fortified milk or formula a day. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about the recommended doses.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your with your child’s healthcare provider as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child’s healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Bowlegs persist or get worse after age 2

  • Only one leg is bowed

  • The leg curvature is extreme or the child has pain

  • Your child is very short for his or her age

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