Screening for foot problems in children: is this practice justifiable?
AUT University, North shore campus, Akoranga Drive, Auckland, 29006, New Zealand
University of South Australia, City east campus, North Terrace, Adelaide, 5000, Australia
Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 2012, 5:18 doi:10.1186/1757-1146-5-18Published: 24 July 2012
Podiatry screening of children is a common practice, which occurs largely without adequate data to support the need for such activity. Such programs may be either formalised, or more ad hoc in nature, depending upon the use of guidelines or existing models. Although often not used, the well-established criteria for assessing the merits of screening programs can greatly increase the understanding as to whether such practices are actually worthwhile. This review examines the purpose of community health screening in the Australian context, as occurs for tuberculosis, breast, cervical and prostate cancers, and then examines podiatry screening practices for children with reference to the criteria of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Topically, the issue of paediatric foot posture forms the focus of this review, as it presents with great frequency to a range of clinicians. Comparison is made with developmental dysplasia of the hip, in which instance the WHO criteria are well met. Considering that the burden of the condition being screened for must be demonstrable, and that early identification must be found to be beneficial, in order to justify a screening program, there is no sound support for either continuing or establishing podiatry screenings for children.