**This post is for information only and is a work in progress**
Has your infant recently been diagnosed with scoliosis? If so, take a deep breath - we are here to help and guide you to the very best treatment for your child.
Firstly, the most important thing to find out is the type of scoliosis that your baby has. The main types of scoliosis are as follows:
- Congenital Scoliosis (which is caused by malformed vertebrae that happened whilst the baby was developing in utero; malformed verts include hemivertebrae, butterfly shaped vertebrae, and conjoined or fused vertebrae - these are usually visible on x-rays and scans)
- Neuromuscular Scoliosis (which has developed secondary to another condition, such as Cerebral Palsy)
-Idiopathic Scoliosis (which is where there is no known cause for the curve that has developed).
In all cases, your child must be under the care of a spinal specialist surgeon who will oversee their treatment as they grow. Time is of the essence! The sooner your child is assessed and starts treatment, the better. Don't be fobbed off with a long wait for your child to be assessed - their curve could progress rapidly in that time. If you are given an initial appointment in the far future, let us know and we'll help you sort things so your child is seen sooner.
If your infant has Idiopathic Scoliosis, it is of utmost importance that they are seen by a spinal specialist who understands Idiopathic Scoliosis in very young children. We can help you find a suitable consultant for your child. In most cases of scoliosis in infants, the curve is mild and will resolve on its own. However, a very small subset will progress - and for these children, the curve can progress rapidly and cause a great deal of deformity in a short space of time. This can be dangerous and can have long-lasting effects; for instance, large thoracic curves can restrict the growth of the lungs.
Thankfully, there is a method which gives a good indicator of whether an infant is likely to have the resolving, benign type of scoliosis or whether they are at risk of having the progressive type. This method is done by measuring the angle of the ribs to the vertebrae, and is called the RVAD (Rib-Vertebra Angle Difference) and any good scoliosis surgeon who understands scoliosis in infants should be well aware of how to measure it.
If your child's RVAD measures as less than 20 degrees, it is usually safe to employ a policy of "watchful waiting" - ie just keeping a close eye on them. Otherwise, it is IMPERATIVE that your child is given treatment as soon as possible. Do NOT be fobbed off with a "wait and see" approach if you do not know for definite that your child has a low RVAD. The larger the curve when proper treatment starts, the harder it is to manage. EARLY TREATMENT IS VITAL - the earlier the better.
Many surgeons today will place infants into braces, and some will put them into plaster bodycasts. However, there is one method that can actually CURE an infant with progressive-type Infant Idiopathic Scoliosis if it is caught early enough. This method uses a series of casts that are applied using techniques and refinements specifically devised by Dr Min Mehta at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, England, in the late 1970s-1980s. Sadly, there are few surgeons who properly understand the Mehta Casting technique - especially as her research papers are now seen as dated - but work is being done to promote it, there are recent studies that prove its efficacy that have been done in the USA, and we hope that it will become the norm in future.
Standard Casting (known as EDF Casting) alone can help to manage scoliosis in infants, but the Mehta Technique, which improved upon this technique, has been proven to be more effective, and since it was introduced to the USA in the past ten years there are now many children who once faced numerous surgeries who are growing up with normal straight spines. They are "cured"! The lady who helped introduce Mehta's Technique in the USA, Heather Hyatt Montoya, now runs the Infantile Scoliosis Outreach Program, and their website is an excellent source of information regarding this. The website can be found at:
The ISOP website has plenty of info and also success stories which will hopefully be encouraging to many. As well as being an Admin here at SSO, I am now Heather's righthand here in the UK and will do my best to help with any questions that UK based parents have.
Please note that sadly, Mehta Casting is only very effective for Infantile Idiopathic Scoliosis. It not so effective for other types of Infantile Scoliosis, though in some cases it may help to control the curves. However, ALL infants with scoliosis MUST be placed under the care of an experienced scoliosis surgeon as soon as possible, and as mentioned above, here at SSO we will do our bet to help you to find someone suitable if needed. There are all sorts of methods for controlling curves so please don't feel disheartened if your child has a different type of scoliosis.
I grew up with Infantile Idiopathic Scoliosis myself so this cause is dear to my heart. Please feel free to PM me for support at any time,