Early Onset Scoliosis (Infantile Scoliosis)

Early onset scoliosis is the abnormal, side-to-side curve of spine in children under 5 years old. There is no known cause for a young child to develop scoliosis at this age. It generally affects boys more often than girls.

Early onset scoliosis includes children with congenital scoliosis (present at birth, with spine abnormalities) and infantile scoliosis (birth to 3 years). It can be linked with:

  • Chest deformities such as pigeon breast, when the breastbone is pushed outward at birth
  • Neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy or muscular disease 
  • Various syndromes such as neurofibromatosis 

Early onset scoliosis can be idiopathic, meaning there is no known cause of it, or it may be due to a neuromuscular disease or syndrome.

Each child may show different signs of scoliosis.  Signs could include a difference in:

  • Shoulder height
  • Head position (the head is not centered with the rest of the body)
  • Hip height or position
  • Shoulder blade height or position
  • The way the arms hang beside the body when standing straight
  • The way the sides of the back look when bending forward

Successful treatment and the best long-term results depend on an early diagnosis. A team of experts will evaluate your child.

  • The team will review your child's medical history and perform the needed tests to see if there are any problems with the bones. 
  • The team will measure the degree of curve in your child’s spine.
  • X-rays are the primary test for early onset scoliosis.  They are used to figure out the exact angles of the curve.
  • Several other types of X-rays may be done to provide more information.

Following the evaluation and testing, if your child needs treatment, you will get a casting plan or surgical treatment plan specific to your child’s condition.

The long-term outcomes for patients with early onset scoliosis have improved a great deal in the past 10 years. Children who are treated for other disorders, in addition to the spinal deformity, may need long-term care into adulthood.

Call the Spine Nurses Hotline at 513-803-2750 if you have questions or concerns.


Last Updated 06/2013