HealthWACH: Hernias in newborns

HealthWACH: Hernias in newborns

COLUMBIA (WACH) - A congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is a birth defect that occurs in about one in every 2,500 live births. It's a condition in which a hole in the diaphragm allows abdominal organs to move into the chest, blocking the development of the lungs. The hole develops very early on in fetal development, and most commonly occurs on the left side of the body. The condition can be life-threatening if not treated, because the lungs cannot provide enough oxygen support to the body. However, the survival rate is about 70 percent.

There are many factors that contribute to the cause of CDH. Genetic and environmental factors both play a role in causing CDH. Some doctors think multiple genes from both parents create an unfortunate genetic combination which contributes to the development of the hernia. About 40 percent of CDH cases are associated with other birth defects, the most common being a congenital heart defect. The CDH is repaired after the birth. but in severe cases, if the liver has moved into the chest fetal therapy may be offered

An ECMO machine, which stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, is now being used to treat CDH. A catheter is placed in a vein and an artery to give cardiac and respiratory support. The amount of time the infant can stay on ECMO varies, depending on the condition and the recovery of the heart and lung functions. The maximum amount of time is usually two weeks, but some cases have gone longer. Complications from being on the machine include bleeding, infection, stroke, transfusion, or mechanical failure of the equipment. There are a variety of ECMO support groups online which help parents with the complications of having a child on the device. There is also a handy map of ECMO centers all over the world