What is congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH)?

A congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is when the diaphragm in a fetus does not fully develop and as a result the organs in the abdomen are able to slip up into the chest while the fetus is in the womb. The diaphragm is a muscle that helps us breathe and separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. When CDH occurs, the organs in the abdomen compress the lungs, and the lungs do not fully develop. As a result, depending on the severity of the lung compression, the newborn baby with CDH can have problems breathing even after the organs are put back into the abdomen.

Congenital diaphragmatic hernia, or CDH, is one of the most common birth defects, affecting about one in 3000-4000 newborns today. CDH occurs when the diaphragm develops abnormally during gestation, creating a defect, or hole, through which organs such as the intestines migrate into the chest. The result is compression and impairment in the development of the lungs, including pulmonary hypertension, a dangerous condition involving high blood pressurein the lungs. Among babies with CDH, pulmonary hypertension can lead to heart failure and is the most significant cause of illness and death. Fortunately, medicine has made tremendous progress against pulmonary hypertension during the past 25 years.

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