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Congenital scoliosis curves can sometimes be visible in infants and toddlers. But often, they’re detected in small children only if there’s been another reason to x-ray the child’s chest or back. Another possible clue to congenital scoliosis can be a urinary, renal, auditory or neural (nervous system) condition, since these can be associated with congenital scoliosis.
Congenital scoliosis is a condition present at birth (congenital). This condition occurs in children whose spinal vertebrae in utero formed abnormally (failure of formation), did not separate correctly (failure of segmentation), or there was a combination of both.
Signs of associated conditions that might indicate congenital scoliosis can include:
• hairy patch or dimples on back
• rib hump or small bump on back
• pain or spasticity in lower extremities
• stiff or short neck or spine
• abnormally formed hand, arm or foot
• difficulty hearing
• genitourinary or renal anomalies or defects
• other musculoskeletal anomalies
• chromosomal abnormalities
In general, but not always, the younger the child is when the curve appears, the more severe the curve tends to be — and the more aggressive its progression (worsening) tends to be.
Organ system abnormalities associated with congenital scoliosis appear in half of patients. These may include:
• genitourinary and renal
• congenital heart defects
• spinal cord abnormalities
• rib abnormalities (can limit chest cavity and lung growth)
• limb abnormalities (such as radial aplasia, Sprengel’s deformity)
• nervous system (neurological, neural)
• at one to three years
The type and severity of your child's curve can help predict the risk of the curve progressing as a child grows. Some curve patterns progress slowly, while some progress very aggressively (especially in younger children).
Often, congenital scoliosis may become apparent during or just before the adolescent growth spurt. Common signs and symptoms may include:
• head not centered with the rest of the body
• uneven hip heights or positions
• uneven shoulder blade heights or positions
• uneven arm lengths
• when bending forward, the left and right sides of the back are asymmetrical
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”