We are experiencing exceptionally high volumes in our emergency rooms.
Every patient is important to us, and we are doing all we can to provide care quickly and efficiently.
Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

Congenital Scoliosis

What Is Congenital Scoliosis?

Congenital scoliosis is when the bones in a baby’s spine (vertebrae) don’t form normally before birth. The baby may be born with a curved spine or develop one later.

If needed, treatments can help kids with congenital scoliosis.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Congenital Scoliosis?

At birth, a baby with congenital scoliosis (sko-lee-OH-sis) might have no signs of the condition. When the child goes through a growth spurt at around age 2 or during puberty, these signs may show up:

  • a curved spine
  • uneven shoulders, hips, and/or waistline
  • a head tilt

Rarely, congenital scoliosis can cause problems with the spinal cord or nerves.

Children with congenital scoliosis also might have problems with the way other organs (such as the heart, kidneys, stomach, and bladder) formed before they were born.

What Causes Congenital Scoliosis?

The cause of congenital scoliosis isn’t known. For some reason, as the baby grew before birth, problems with the vertebrae developed, such as:

  • unusually shaped vertebrae
  • missing vertebrae
  • unusual spacing between the vertebrae

How Is Congenital Scoliosis Diagnosed?

If a health care provider thinks a child may have congenital scoliosis, they will order tests to look at the spine. These usually include:

They might order other tests, such as an ultrasound, to check for problems in other organs.

How Is Congenital Scoliosis Treated?

Doctors who treat problems with bones (orthopedic surgeons) care for children with congenital scoliosis. Some kids won’t need treatment. They will have regular visits so the doctor can see if the spine gets more curved as they grow.

Other children will need treatment. Some types of scoliosis are treated with a back brace, but these usually doesn’t help kids with congenital scoliosis. Instead, doctors usually do surgery to help straighten the spine. A surgeon might:

  • Place growing rods to straighten the spine as a child grows.
  • Do spinal fusion surgery, straightening the spine as much as possible and using rods and screws to hold it in place.
  • Do surgery to keep the chest bones expanded, which make space for the growing lungs and helps keep the spine straight.

What Else Should I Know?

Children with congenital scoliosis often have other medical problems. Getting care from medical specialists along with the scoliosis care team will help many kids live healthy, active lives.

Reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date Reviewed: 20-09-2022

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.