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A to Z: Genu Varum

A to Z: Genu Varum

May also be called: Bowlegs

Genu varum (GEE-noo VAY-rum) is an exaggerated bending outward of the legs from the knees down that causes the knees to be spread apart when the feet and ankles are touching.

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More to Know

Genu varum is a normal condition in children up to 18 months of age. Because of the way their bodies are positioned in the uterus, almost all babies are born bowlegged. Once they begin to walk and their legs start to bear weight, their legs usually straighten out.

Bow-leggedness beyond the age of 2 or bow-leggedness in one leg only can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as Blount disease (which causes abnormal growth in the shinbone) or rickets (a bone growth problem caused by a lack of vitamin D or calcium in the diet).

In most cases, genu varum requires no treatment. If it is the result of Blount disease, treatment may involve leg braces or surgery to straighten the legs. Rickets is usually treated by adding vitamin D and calcium to the diet.

Keep in Mind

Most of the time, genu varum is a perfectly normal condition that corrects itself by the time a child is about 2 or 3 years old. When treatment is necessary, braces or surgery can usually fix it and prevent any problems with walking.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.