Congenital scoliosis: etiology and associations

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2009 Aug 1;34(17):1745-50. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181abf69e.


Study design: Literature review.

Objective: To provide a current overview of congenital scoliosis and associated conditions.

Summary of background data: The etiology of congenital scoliosis is unknown. A variety of factors have been implicated in the development of vertebral abnormalities. These factors provide clues to the origin of congenital scoliosis.

Methods: A search of PubMed, using the keywords congenital scoliosis, etiology, and genetics was performed.

Results: Environmental factors, genetics, vitamin deficiency, chemicals, and drugs, singly or in combination, have all been implicated in the development of vertebral abnormalities. Whatever the cause, the physiologic injury occurs early in the embryologic period, well before the development of cartilage and bone. The resulting defects can lead to full or partial fusion or lack of development of the vertebrae, which, in turn, can cause a curvature that, may be progressive during the growth of the child.

Conclusion: The origin of congenital scoliosis may be environmental, genetic, or a combination of factors. Research on these various factors continues. Early identification and management of concomitant defects can improve the patient's quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / pathology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology*
  • Scoliosis / etiology*
  • Scoliosis / pathology
  • Scoliosis / physiopathology*
  • Spine / abnormalities*
  • Spine / pathology
  • Spine / physiopathology*