Born with six fingers explained
(Sisipan Oman Daily Observer)
Counting their newborn’s fingers and toes came as something of a shock to the parents of Kamani Hubbard. Even doctors at the San Francisco hospital where he was born didn’t initially notice that the three-week-old boy had six perfectly formed digits on each of his hands and feet. “It took a little time for me to take it all in,” says his father, Kris Hubbard. “My son has six fingers.
Then I saw the toes and I thought, ‘This is quite unique.’” To have 24 fully functioning digits is, indeed, somewhat extraordinary. But being born with extra fingers or toes — a condition known as polydactylism — is not unusual, affecting one child in a thousand. A congenital abnormality caused during embryonic development, polydactylism is the result of a single finger or toe splitting in two.
It can run in families — Kris Hubbard and several of his relatives were born with six fingers — but can also occur out of the blue. “Usually, the extra digit is a fleshy ‘nubbin’ on the side of a little finger and hand surgeons in the UK see them fairly regularly,” says Chris Bainbridge, a hand surgeon at the
Derbyshire Royal Infirmary. “Thumbs split into two are also widespread.” Lindsay Muir, hand surgeon at the Manchester Hand Clinic, says that extra toes can be problematic when it comes to getting shoes to fit, and removal may be necessary, but in general extra digits do not have any negative effect on development. “If they work normally, many people just keep them,” he says.
Not so the actor Gemma Arterton, who was born with an extra fleshy finger stump on each hand. The doctor who delivered her tied off the extra fingers with sutures and they fell off, leaving small scars. Other famous polydactyls include the blues guitarist Hound Dog Taylor who kept his six fingers on each hand. Sometimes extra digits come in useful. Antonia Alfonseca, a US baseball player, nicknamed the Octopus, was thought to get his pitching skill from his extra finger on each hand. “Playing the piano might be difficult though,” Bainbridge says. “You would for ever be hitting an extra note.”
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