Infantile Idiopathic Scoliosis
What You Need to Know
- Scoliosis is defined by the degrees of curvature of the spine, which can be determined with X-rays.
- Infantile idiopathic scoliosis is rare and occurs in children younger than 2 years old.
- The cause of infantile idiopathic scoliosis is unknown.
- Over 50 percent of infantile idiopathic scoliosis cases will not require treatment.
- Treatment for infantile idiopathic scoliosis includes casting and bracing.
What is infantile idiopathic scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition where the spine develops a lateral (side to side) curve along with rotation. While scoliosis rarely presents in infants — children younger than 2 — it is referred to as infantile idiopathic scoliosis when it does. There is no known or identifiable cause.
What are the symptoms of infantile idiopathic scoliosis?
The first sign of scoliosis is often the appearance of asymmetry in the back or trunk. Observations from parents include
- My child has a leg that looks longer than the other.
- My son’s ribs are developing a hump.
- My baby always leans to the left.
Infantile Idiopathic Scoliosis Diagnosis
Scoliosis is quantified in degrees of curvature of the spine. If it is suspected, a primary care provider will order an X-ray of the spine and vertebrae — the rectangular-shaped building blocks of the spine — to detail the shape of the vertebrae and allow for measurement of the degree of scoliosis.
Infantile Idiopathic Scoliosis Treatment
More than half of all infantile idiopathic scoliosis will never require treatment. These children improve with time and growth alone. But children with scoliosis that fails to improve or continues to worsen are offered treatment. The preferred treatment of infantile idiopathic scoliosis is modified Mehta casting.
While the child is under general anesthesia, a cast is applied to his or her body. This allows for a completely relaxed state so that more precision and time can be put into the shaping and molding of the trunk cast. The cast molding focuses on applying varying amounts and types of pressure to the spine to correct the scoliosis.
When an infant is in a cast or brace for scoliosis, development continues as typical. A child in a cast for scoliosis will take his or her first steps in the cast, play on the playground in the cast, and ride in his or her regular car seat. The cast cannot be removed at home, but adjustments and modifications can be made to how the child is bathed and diapered. The treatment team will go over these with caregivers.
The time it takes to treat infantile idiopathic scoliosis varies from child to child. The casting phase will last an average of six months, which is then followed by bracing.
5 Facts About Scoliosis Every Parent Should Know
Scoliosis is a common spine condition often diagnosed during adolescence. Children are often screened for the condition during regular visits with their pediatrician or during back-to-school physicals. In some states, schools also screen children when they return to school each year. But while this condition is common, there are many myths out there about its causes and treatments. In an effort to help parents determine fact from fiction, pediatric orthopaedic surgeon Paul Sponseller provides five facts about scoliosis that every parent should know.
A scoliosis brace, called a custom thoraco-lumbar-sacral orthosis — TLSO for short — is made by a specialist called an orthotist. An infant with scoliosis will transition from a full-time cast directly to a full-time TLSO. The TLSO is prescribed to be worn 23 hours a day until the scoliosis has resolved. During the bracing phase, the brace can be removed for bathing and swimming.