A Devastating Birth Defect
Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) is a rare birth defect that effects roughly 1 in every 2,500 live births per year worldwide with an estimated 1,600 new cases in the United States annually. Roughly 50% of babies born with CDH do not survive. Of the 50% that do survive, most will endure long hospital stays, feeding issues, asthma and other problems. A few of the survivors suffer from severe long-term medical issues. The cause of CDH is still completely unknown.
The onset of CDH occurs somewhere between 8-12 weeks gestational age when the baby’s diaphragm is forming, in theory separating the chest cavity from the abdomen. Unfortunately with CDH babies, a hole remains in the diaphragm allowing the contents of the abdomen (stomach, intestine, liver, spleen, and kidneys) to go up into the fetal chest. The herniation of these abdominal organs into the chest occupies that space and prevents the lungs from growing to normal size. The growth of both lungs can be affected creating a host of potentially fatal issues upon delivery.
Although it’s statistically as common as other serious but more well-known defects like Cystic Fibrosis and Spina Bifida, CDH doesn’t receive nearly the amount of financial contribution or media attention to support ongoing clinical research and family support.