Are Baby Kneecaps The Need Of The Hour?
If you are inquisitive, you may have wondered if baby kneecaps are needed for your newborn baby. And the answer could be “yes”, “no”, or “I don’t know”. The question may sound simple, even silly. But the answer is actually quite complex.
First, there is no standard definition of kneecap. If you are an adult, the patella is a circular bone in front of the bottom end of the femur. The purpose of the patella is to aid in the extension of the knee. When the leverage of the tendon to the thigh muscles increases, it functions better. The patella happens to be a sesamoid bone, which means that the bone is embedded in a muscle.
What does all this mean for your baby? Beginning with birth, your baby will have a patella. But, it will not be made out of bone. The piece of cartilage in the baby’s knee is bound to turn into a bone by a process known as ossification later on. All the bones in the human body start out as cartilage and, at around birth time, change to bone. The patella is a piece of cartilage which becomes bone only after birth. Around the age of 3, the ossification of the human kneecap starts. The areas of the bone start emerging within the cartilage of the patella and slowly and steadily develop into a bony kneecap. The whole kneecap does not turn into a bone until your child will reach puberty. Therefore, when someone asks “Does a baby have kneecaps?”, if you are of the opinion that it is already a bone, the answer then is “no”. If you consider the kneecap a piece of cartilage in the center of the tendon that is linked to the femur, then the answer is “yes”.
Now, why do babies not have bony kneecaps already at birth? The reason for this unknown. However, the understanding is that there is no kneecap because when the baby crawls, it is less painful to do it on a soft piece of cartilage than on bone. Additionally, kids tend to fall a lot on their knees. For this reason, a soft kneecap has less chance of being broken than a bony one!