Congenital abnormalities of the Central Nervous System (CNS)
Also known as: Fetal central nervous system abnormalities, Fetal CNS anomalies, Intrauterine brain and/or spinal cord birth defects
What are Congenital CNS abnormalities?
Congenital abnormalities of the CNS are birth defects of the physical structure of the brain or spinal cord that occur during fetal intrauterine growth.
This blanket term encompasses a broad range of disorders and medical conditions, from minor abnormalities to severe ones, including spina bifida (in which the spinal cord doesn't form properly), or microcephaly, in which brain growth is inhibited.
What causes Congenital CNS abnormalities?
A wide range of factors can contribute to congenital CNS abnormalities. Some are caused by genetic factors. In other cases, exposure to one or more of (multifactorial) alcohol, smoking, drugs, vitamins, medications, environmental toxins, other toxic substances or certain viruses which infect the baby while in the womb can contribute to the development of a CNS abnormality.
In many infants no known or identifiable cause is found.
What are the symptoms of Congenital CNS abnormalities?
The exact symptoms of a congenital CNS abnormality will vary widely depending on the nature and severity of the condition. Usually, as some form of physical brain or spinal cord defect is present, there are problems with brain function or limb movement.
What are congenital CNS abnormality care options?
Your pediatric neurologist will evaluate your baby and do a variety of tests which will include radiological studies to diagnose the specific abnormality your baby may have.
Treatment (both medical and surgical, if necessary) is available to help your baby achieve the best physical and/or mental condition he/she is capable of as he or she grows older. Unfortunately there are some conditions which cannot be cured.
Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP
This page was last updated on: August 10, 2023 10:09 AM