Lethal and life-limiting skeletal dysplasias: Selected prenatal issues

Adv Clin Exp Med. 2021 Jun;30(6):641-647. doi: 10.17219/acem/134166.


Skeletal dysplasias are a heterogeneous group of congenital bone and cartilage disorders with a genetic etiology. The current classification of skeletal dysplasias distinguishes 461 diseases in 42 groups. The incidence of all skeletal dysplasias is more than 1 in every 5000 newborns. The type of dysplasia and associated abnormalities affect the lethality, survival and long-term prognosis of skeletal dysplasias. It is crucial to distinguish skeletal dysplasias and correctly diagnose the disease to establish the prognosis and achieve better management. It is possible to use prenatal ultrasonography to observe predictors of lethality, such as a bell-shaped thorax, short ribs, severe femoral shortening, and decreased lung volume. Individual lethal or life-limiting dysplasias may have more or less specific features on prenatal ultrasound. The prenatal features of the most common skeletal dysplasias, such as thanatophoric dysplasia, osteogenesis imperfecta type II, achondrogenesis, and campomelic dysplasia, are discussed in this article. Less frequent dysplasias, such as asphyxiating thoracic dystrophy, fibrochondrogenesis, atelosteogenesis, and homozygous achondroplasia, are also discussed.

Keywords: lethal; life-limiting; prenatal diagnostic; skeletal dysplasia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Osteochondrodysplasias*
  • Osteogenesis Imperfecta*
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 3
  • Thanatophoric Dysplasia*
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal


  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 3