Dad’s Viral Photo Raises Awareness For Baby's ‘Hair Tourniquet Syndrome’: How A Tiny Hair Could Lead To Amputation

Baby Toes
Toe-Tourniquet Syndrome is an under reported medical condition, but commonly leads to amputation. Photo courtesy of Facebook, Scott Walker

When a baby is born with ten fingers, ten toes, a healthy set of screaming lungs — among other miraculous biological perfections — parents breathe a sigh of relief. But the crucial weeks following a baby's birth can lead to dangerous circumstances like the common, but under-discussed, “toe-tourniquet syndrome.”

In September 2015, Scott and Jessica Walker brought home their new baby girl, Molly, where 3-year-old sister Mya was waiting. Molly had been born seven weeks premature with complications surrounding her birth, so she had to remain in the hospital for three weeks before she was allowed home.

When the new member of their family became upset during a lunch outing, they knew something was wrong. “Molly has been battling some colic and reflux issues for the past couple months, so being agitated is nothing unordinary, for her, but something seemed ‘off’ this time,” Scott Walker told Buzzfeed.

Molly was overheating, so her mother took the sock off the baby’s toe, and noticed it was bright red. After Molly was brought to the doctor, the Walkers learned their baby had “toe-tourniquet syndrome,” also referred to as a “hair tourniquet.” A tiny hair had wrapped around Molly’s toe so tightly, it cut off some circulation and began to dig into her skin. Because a baby’s skin is so thin and fragile, a hair could pose as a dangerous mode of strangulation. According to a 2006 study, it’s a common condition that’s frequently underreported; if parents or doctors fail to recognize the condition, it can lead to the loss of an appendage.

"Unfortunately, the hair managed to cut all the way through Molly's skin, completely around her toe, but it could have been worse had it gone much longer untreated, or if the hair wasn't accessible,” Walker wrote in a Facebook post. “The doctor told me, for future reference, to always check the toes if the baby is inconsolable. Just an FYI to any parents or care takers out there.” 

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