Poland’s syndrome

Poland’s Syndrome is a rare birth defect, believed to be linked to a change in blood flow in the seventh week of pregnancy.

The effects of the syndrome are that one side of the body remains less developed than the other, with the most common symptoms including a lack of pectoral (chest) muscle, an abnormal gastrointestinal tract, and shorter, missing or even webbed fingers on the hand on the affected side of the body, which is itself likely to be much smaller than the hand on the unaffected side. English TV presenter Jeremy Beadle (1948 – 2008) was a well-known sufferer of the syndrome, whose outward symptoms included a disproportionately small right hand.

Poland syndrome usually affects the right side of the body, and is three times more common in males than in females. Various surgeries are available to help correct the syndrome at different stages of growth, although female sufferers usually need to wait until their other breast is fully developed before undergoing corrective breast reconstruction. Each sufferer is affected to a different degree but most afflicted can lead normal lives, even in some cases breastfeeding their children, providing the milk glands are still present despite the lack of muscle.

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