Causes of bow legs

Bow legs happen when the bones in each of a baby’s thighs and legs line up differently while the baby is growing.

Bow legs can also be the result of other problems, such as rickets (vitamin D deficiency), but this is rare these days. Less than 1% of children with bow legs have an underlying problem.

Bow legs are usually quite normal. Most children have bow legs to some extent when they’re babies, and this becomes more noticeable when they start to walk.

Bow legs are also known as genu varum.

Symptoms of bow legs

If your child has bow legs, you’ll notice that when she stands with her feet together, her ankles touch but her knees are apart.

When to see a doctor about bow legs

You should take your child to see your GP if:

  • your child is over two years of age and has very severe bowed legs
  • there’s bowing on only one of your child’s legs
  • your child has pain or a limp.

Treatment for bow legs

If your child has bow legs, his legs will usually line up properly by the time he starts school, and he won’t need any treatment.

If the bowing doesn’t improve after this age, and the bow legs are severe, a specialist might think about night splints. These are a type of brace worn at night to try and straighten the legs. They might be a bit uncomfortable for your child, but they’re not usually painful to wear.