About The Comprehensive Center for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Care
No matter where you live or what you already know about congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), the affiliated specialists at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital are here to help. Approximately 1,000 babies are born each year with CDH – many of them go on to live a happy, healthy life without limitation.
CDH is a complex disease that requires special, focused expertise to optimize outcomes. Fetal and pediatric specialists affiliated with The Comprehensive Center for CDH Care aim to provide families with a coordinated care approach from fetal diagnosis, delivery, neonatal care, through long term multidisciplinary follow up for patients, aiming to provide families with a one-stop-shop approach to their child’s health care needs. The affiliated clinic coordinators provide families with a seamless care transition from The Fetal Center to the affiliated neonatal and pediatric specialists, and, ultimately, to the outpatient long-term CDH team.
One of the best things you can do for your child right now is to learn about CDH. Some of the information you may find is difficult to hear and some of the information available on the internet may not apply to you and your child. We have dedicated online educational resources to help you understand CDH, including the organs most affected, the wide range of severity, the process of the medical care involved, and the treatments that can help your child.
Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a birth defect that affects approximately 1,000 babies born each year, occurs when there is an opening in the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the organs in the abdomen from the organs in the chest. The abnormal development of the diaphragm, occurring before birth, causes a hole in this muscle that helps control breathing and is linked to the development of the lungs. CDH may range from a small hole, or hernia, to the complete absence of the diaphragm.
An absent or partially formed fetal diaphragm allows the organs in the abdomen (stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, kidneys) to move into the chest cavity during pregnancy and crowd the baby’s heart and lungs. This can lead to compression and underdevelopment of the lungs (pulmonary hypoplasia), and potentially life-threatening breathing difficulties after birth. CDH may also cause high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs (pulmonary hypertension), requiring the baby’s heart to work harder to pump blood to the arteries. Over time, the heart may weaken, resulting in heart failure. Many infants with CDH may have other complications, such as developmental problems with the brain, kidneys and bowel. All of the abnormalities are usually inside the body – the child’s face and external body is almost always completely normal.
While the exact cause of CDH is unknown, it is a complex disease that requires special and focused expertise to optimize patient outcomes. Parent resources are provided at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital to help families understand all aspects of CDH, including the organs most affected the wide range of severity, the process of the medical care involved, and the treatments that can help your child.
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