Congenital spine deformities are disorders of the spine that develop in a child before birth. The vertebrae don’t form properly very early in fetal development, causing structural problems in the spine and spinal cord.
These deformities can range from mild to severe, and may cause other problems if untreated, such as:
Medical experts are uncertain what causes the defects responsible for congenital spine deformities. In these disorders, the vertebrae may be:
A child may have one or more types of congenital spine deformity. Some commonly known types include:
Pediatricians can often detect spine deformities at birth if there is any abnormal curvature in the back. Sometimes, these deformities may not be noticed until later childhood or adolescence, when symptoms worsen. Physical signs of congenital spine deformities include:
A pediatrician’s physical exam at birth can often reveal congenital spine deformities. Further tests that help confirm a diagnosis include:
Treatment usually focuses on preventing congenital spine deformities from getting worse, rather than correcting them. Depending on the type and severity of your child’s condition, the pediatrician may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
Learn more about our Spine Program at Children’s National.
Our orthopaedic experts provide advanced care for children and teens with orthopaedic conditions and sports injuries.
Our spine experts provide advanced care for babies, children, and teenagers with spinal conditions.
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Debbie Freiburg is the Director for Medical Nursing and Patient and Family Education Program. She has been at Children's since 1978, joining the team as a staff nurse on the Hematology and Oncology unit.
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Home to the Children’s Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children’s National is one of the nation’s top NIH-funded pediatric institutions.
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