Scoliosis is fairly rare amongst babies and young children, as in most cases the spinal curve doesn’t develop until adolescence. However, that’s doesn’t mean that babies are never affected.

Scoliosis in Babies

Broadly speaking, there are two types of scoliosis in babies: infantile scoliosis and congenital scoliosis. Today, we’re going to explain the differences and similarities between each condition, and how they can be treated.

What is congenital scoliosis?

Congenital scoliosis is a type of scoliosis that is present from birth. It is caused by irregular development of the spine while the baby is still in the womb. It occurs because one or more vertebrae didn’t form properly, or if multiple vertebrae are joined together.

The symptoms of congenital scoliosis are just the same as any other form of scoliosis: uneven hips and/or shoulders; rib cage more prominent on one side than the other; a visible lean to one side. But these symptoms may be harder to identify in a very young child.

Every person experiences scoliosis differently, whether you’re born with the spinal condition or develop a curve later in life. Some sufferers may experience pain, respiratory problems, and/or reduced mobility, but none of these symptoms are guaranteed. In some cases of congenital scoliosis, where the condition is linked to a problem with the spinal cord, the patient may also experience reduced coordination, reduced strength, and numbness, but again these symptoms vary from person to person.

Read more about congenital scoliosis >

What is infantile scoliosis?

Infantile scoliosis is a sideways spinal curve that is diagnosed between 0 and 3 years of age. Unlike congenital scoliosis, infantile isn’t present at birth; rather, it develops early in the child’s life.

Infantile scoliosis affects more baby boys than girls, and the exact cause of infantile scoliosis is unknown.

Some have suggested that the spine is slightly bent at the time of birth and simply worsens with growth. The spinal curve typically appears between the shoulder blades or in the thoracic (upper) region of the spine, and the spine tends to curve to the left more often than it curves to the right.

The diagnosis of infantile scoliosis is based on the age of onset, the location of the curve, findings from the physical examination, and x-rays.

The symptoms of infantile scoliosis are very similar to those of congenital scoliosis, and again, their severity varies from one patient to the next.

Treating infantile and congenital scoliosis

In cases of scoliosis where the patient is still very young, doctors usually recommend monitoring/observing their condition to see whether the spinal curve will correct itself over time.

Later on, if the curve has not corrected itself and is in fact worsening, the patient may be recommended to wear a back brace to stop the curve from progressing. In severe cases, they also may have to undergo spinal fusion surgery.

Like most forms of the condition, infantile and congenital scoliosis can be effectively treated via exercise-based physiotherapy, which is what we offer here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. We have treated plenty of young children, and have seen some excellent results!

If you would like to find out more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses and how they can benefit babies with scoliosis, please call Scoliosis SOS on 0207 488 4428 or click here to book an initial consultation.

Congenital Scoliosis
 
The most common form of scoliosis is idiopathic scoliosis, which usually develops during adolescence and has no known cause (although science is gradually getting closer to solving that mystery). The vast majority of idiopathic scoliosis patients are diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 18; as a general rule, the characteristic spinal curve does not develop until the onset of puberty, when the body goes through a rapid growth spurt.
 
However, some people have a type of scoliosis that sets in far earlier – from birth, in fact. This is called congenital scoliosis.

What is congenital scoliosis?

Congenital scoliosis is a type of scoliosis that is present from birth. If a baby is born with a spine that curves to one side, they are said to have congenital scoliosis.
 
Congenital scoliosis is caused by irregular development of the bones in the spine while the baby is in the womb. In some cases, congenital scoliosis occurs because one or more vertebrae did not form properly, although a spinal curve can also arise because multiple vertebrae are joined together.

How to spot congenital scoliosis

The symptoms of congenital scoliosis are similar to the symptoms of idiopathic or any other type of scoliosis (although they may be somewhat harder to spot in an infant or small child):
  • Uneven hips and/or shoulders
  • Rib cage more prominent on one side than the other
  • The patient appears to lean to one side
  • Clothes do not fit properly
  • Numbness, loss of coordination or weakness

Is congenital scoliosis painful?

Every congenital scoliosis patient has a different experience of the condition, and that applies to children born with scoliosis just as much as it applies to those who develop the condition later on. Some scoliosis patients do experience pain, reduced mobility, and/or compromised breathing, but these symptoms are relatively uncommon, especially in their more severe forms.
 
In cases where congenital scoliosis is linked to a problem with the spinal cord / nervous system, the patient may experience reduced coordination, reduced strength, and/or a feeling of numbness. Again, though, such cases are quite rare.

Treating congenital scoliosis

Scoliosis can be treated in a number of different ways, and congenital scoliosis is no exception. If the patient is still very young, some doctors may recommend simply waiting and monitoring their condition to see whether or not the spinal curve corrects itself as the child grows. This is usually the recommended treatment for congenital scoliosis curves less than 25°.
 
If congenital scoliosis worsens over time, some doctors may recommend bracing to prevent further deterioration. The brace puts pressure on the patient’s lower back, helping to straighten the spine. This can often be uncomfortable and inconvenient, especially for children who want to be able to run around and play restriction-free. 
 
In especially severe cases of congenital scoliosis may be referred for spinal fusion surgery, but this is a major operation and surgery is not usually the preferred treatment route when the patient is a child.
 
As with other forms of the condition, congenital scoliosis can be effectively managed via exercise-based physiotherapy. We have treated many young children here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, and we have seen some real transformations – just visit our Results (4-14 Years Old) page to see how effective our treatment courses are when it comes to reducing spinal curves.
 
If you would like to find out more about our treatment courses and how they can benefit congenital scoliosis patients, please call Scoliosis SOS on 0207 488 4428 or click here to book an initial consultation.