CDH occurs when the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen, fails to close during prenatal development. This opening allows contents of the abdomen to migrate into the chest, impacting the growth and development of the lungs.
The wide, flat muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities is called the diaphragm. The diaphragm forms over the course of the sixth through 12th week of gestation in the fetus. When it does not completely form, a defect is created, which is known as CDH.
CDH is one of the most common major congenital anomalies, occurring in one of every 2,500 to 3,000 live births. CDH can occur on the left side, or the right side, or rarely on both sides. Newborns with CDH will require immediate care at delivery, so early and accurate diagnosis is important.
The cause of CDH is unknown. CDH is typically diagnosed before birth with an ultrasound. Once this initial diagnosis is made, it is important to receive an expert assessment of your baby’s condition. The severity of your baby’s condition is an important guideline to ascertaining proper treatment. Surgery is required.
Babies born with CDH require immediate care. At Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, the caring teams at our neonatal intensive care units (NICU) support you and your baby every step of the way. Our surgeons provide state-of-the-art pediatric surgeries.