Pediatric Congenital Conditions

Congenital Childhood Conditions Image

A congenital condition refers to any health issue that is present from before or at birth. While some congenital disorders are mild and don’t significantly disrupt patients’ lives, others are more serious, causing a person to suffer from dramatic setbacks throughout their lives.

For example, while mild cases of scoliosis don’t require treatment because they don’t interrupt patients’ day-to-day activities, severe cases of cerebral palsy require lifelong care, as these patients tend to be mentally disabled.

In most cases of congenital conditions, researchers are still investigating the precise causes. However, the medical community has identified some common risk factors that can contribute to the development of some congenital conditions, including genetic disposition, family history of the condition and pregnancy complications.

Because the types and intensities of different congenital conditions vary dramatically, so too do the available treatment options. For instance, treatments can range from regularly monitoring the condition to having multiple surgeries to needing a lifelong caregiver.

In this section, we will highlight some of the most common childhood congenital conditions. Our articles outline the causes, symptoms and treatments associated with each.

Allergies

Allergies are among the top three most common congenital childhood conditions. Unlike some of the other congenital disorders, allergies can come in a variety of forms, including:

  • drug allergies
  • dust, pollen or mold allergies
  • food allergies
  • latex allergies
  • pet allergies.

With so many different types of allergies, doctors can have a hard time diagnosing allergies before a person comes into contact with an allergen, the foreign substance that triggers an allergic reaction in a person. As a result, understanding and being familiar with the symptoms of allergies can help you identify whether or not you suffer from them when you come into contact with or ingest a new substance.

Common allergy symptoms include (but aren’t limited to):

  • itchy skin
  • redness of the skin
  • runny noses
  • sore throats
  • swelling.

If you start experiencing the above symptom, consult your doctor and get tested to see if you suffer from some type of allergy.

Juvenile Diabetes

Juvenile diabetes, also referred to as Type I diabetes, is a form of diabetes in which a patient is born with the inability to produce insulin and, therefore, isn’t able to naturally regulate his blood glucose levels. Unlike other forms of diabetes, juvenile diabetes requires that patients regularly receive insulin (either through injections or through an infusion pump that constantly delivers insulin through a needle inserted into the abdomen).

Along with receiving up to four insulin injections each day, children with juvenile diabetes will also have to make and maintain some lifestyle changes in order to prevent the development of serious diabetes complications, such as heart, kidney and vision problems. Some of these lifestyle changes include eating a health diet and exercising regularly.

Once your child has been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, consult your doctor and a nutritionist to make sure both you and your child understand what it takes to control juvenile diabetes.

Scoliosis

Any abnormal curving of the spinal column is known as scoliosis. About 3 percent of all children suffer from this congenital condition. Because scoliosis is so prevalent, doctors generally test for it during a child’s routine physicals. The test for diagnosing scoliosis is simple: Children are merely asked to bend over and touch their toes. If a doctor can detect any curvature in the spine at this point, he will call for a series of X-rays that will provide clear images of the child’s spine.

The exact treatment for scoliosis depends on the severity of the case. For example, while mild cases only require consistent monitoring to make sure the patient’s condition doesn’t worsen with time, more serious cases require patients to wear braces or even undergo surgery. Keep in mind that treatment is essential for serious cases because symptoms can worsen as the patient’s spine continues to grow abnormally due to scoliosis.

Resources

About.com (n.d.). Children with Diabetes. Retrieved September 19, 2007 from the About.com Web site: http://pediatrics.about.com/od/childrenwithdiabetes/Children_with_Diabetes.htm.

eMedicine Health (updated June 5, 2007). Scoliosis. Retrieved September 19, 2007 from the eMedicine Health Web site: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/scoliosis/article_em.htm.

WebMD (n.d.). Allergies Health Center. Retrieved September 19, 2007 from the WebMD Web site: http://www.webmd.com/allergies/default.htm.