Are Newborn Babies Born Without Kneecaps?

Are Newborn Babies Born Without Kneecaps?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Gunjan Baweja (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

The first year of a baby’s birth is extremely crucial, as a major part of development is still going on, and continues into the second year as well.  Most people believe that babies are born without kneecaps, but is that true? If you are wondering if this is true or false, you’ve come to the right place. Read this article to find out if babies are actually born without kneecaps.

Do Infants Have Kneecaps When They Are Born?

Most people think that babies are born without kneecaps but that is not correct. Newborns are born with kneecaps that are made of cartilage, which is soft. Later as they grow and their bone structure develops, ossification takes place and it turns hard. The common misconception about babies not having kneecaps from the fact that when an x-ray is taken of a newborn baby’s knees, the kneecap is not visible as it is made up of cartilage and not bones. And so the belief persists!

When and How the Kneecaps of a Baby Develop

This is a commonly asked question. The development of a baby’s kneecap starts in the mother’s womb itself when she is about four months into gestation. During the formative years, it is made up of cartilage. When the baby is about 3-5 years old, the process of ossification starts. The cartilaginous patella (kneecap) starts developing into a bony one. The development of the kneecap then continues throughout the infant stage until she is about 10-12 years of age i.e. until the cartilage gives way to a bony structure. However, even at this stage, the kneecap does have some bit of cartilage and it continues to develop throughout her adolescent period. Once the bone fully expands, it develops into a fully grown patella (kneecap).

Osteoblast cells grow in the cartilage linings and form a solid and firm bone which covers the cartilage. The blood vessels which grow around the cartilage develop into a nutrient artery, which supports the development of the bones. The process of ossification intensifies and produces more bone cells resulting in the formation of a strong, bony kneecap.

Is There Any Way to Protect Your Child’s Kneecaps?

The cartilage in the knee is the reason why babies can crawl so well without any pain. It acts as a cushion because of its softness. However, crawling around can cause external bruises to the baby’s knees. A rough patch on the floor or small particles of sand or mud that comes from outside into the house are some of the ways in which the baby’s knees may get bruised. So what should you do to protect your baby’s knees? You can make her wear knee protectors. These baby knee protectors are strips of soft cloth with cushions in the knee area. Tie them around your child’s knees and you can let her crawl around without any worry. Knee protectors are available online or on stores. If you have time and energy, you can also make it at home with a soft, with a cotton sari. However, make sure not to tie this too tightly.

So now you know that newborns are born with kneecaps, but with underdeveloped cartilaginous. However, for your baby’s cartilage to grow into a strong, bony kneecap, you must make sure that her diet is rich in calcium to enrich and have healthy bones. Proper calcium intake will not just help in the proper formation of her kneecap but also help in the development of her overall bone health.

Also Read: Brittle Bone Disease in Infants

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