Children's Hospital Colorado
General Orthopedics Program

Bowed Legs (Genu Varum)

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What is bowed legs?

Bowed legs (also known as genu varum or bowlegs) is a common condition occurring in infants and toddlers. In many cases, this condition corrects itself as a child grows.

A child with bowed legs has a distinct space between his or her lower legs and knees. This may be a result of either one or both of the legs curving outward. Walking often exaggerates this bowed appearance.

What causes bowed legs?

In most cases bowed legs are due to a fetus' loose muscle (laxity) and position in the uterus, which they eventually outgrow.

Who gets bowed legs?

Many babies are born bowlegged because their legs were folded tightly across their bellies in-utero (during pregnancy inside the mother). Bowed legs usually straighten once babies with this condition start to walk and their legs bear weight. By age 3, most kids grow out of the condition.

Bowleggedness is a condition very common in toddlers. Adolescents occasionally have bowed legs and should be evaluated for other causes such as limb length discrepancy (a difference in length between the legs), Blount's disease, in which the abnormal growth in the upper part of the shin bone (tibia) causes the legs to bow, or rickets, a deficiency of Vitamin D.

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