Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia in Children

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Overview

If you’ve had an ultrasound and been told that your baby may have a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), you probably have a lot of questions—and may be very worried. We’ve put together some information about CDH as well as what you can expect throughout your pregnancy and when your baby is born. 

Here is some basic information about CDHs:

  • A CDH is a hole in the diaphragm (the muscle under the lungs that is responsible for breathing) that allows organs from the abdomen to move into the chest
     
  • CDHs affect about 1 in every 2,500 babies
     
  • A CDH can often be diagnosed during a routine ultrasound. If it’s not diagnosed during pregnancy, it is usually diagnosed shortly after birth when a baby is having trouble breathing.
     
  • The outlook for babies born with CDH is increasingly positive with new surgical techniques and ways to support babies as they heal. However, it’s possible that your baby can have long-term problems and need regular follow-up care after going home from the hospital.

How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches CDH

Boston Children's treats more than 20 newborns with a CDH each year, with a success rate among the best in the world. Children's survival rate is close to 90 percent, while the national average at major medical centers is only 65 percent. 

When a CDH is diagnosed or suspected during pregnancy, treatment is coordinated through Boston Children's Advanced Fetal Care Center. Children also come into the care of the program when a CDH is diagnosed after birth, and on an outpatient basis for long-term treatment.

Pectus carinatum: Reviewed by Jay Wilson, MD
© Boston Children’s Hospital; posted in 2012

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