Our daughter has a six-month old son who was diagnosed with a type of dwarfism called achondroplasia. Now that our grandson is starting to sit up, our daughter has been told to put a special support on him to help his spine. She rarely does this. What could happen to his little spine if she doesn't follow the doctor's instructions?
Achondroplasia is often accompanied by several deformities of the spine. One of these is thoracolumbar kyphosis. This is a forward curve of the spine in the mid-to-lower back. Without a brace or support of some kind, the child ends up slump-sitting. Prolonged slumping puts pressure on the front of the vertebrae. Over time, the bones start to assume a wedge-shape. If not prevented, the deformity can become permanent. Studies show that with bracing and sitting prevention, children can come through this without spinal deformity. There are some potential problems with the bracing. In very young children, it can prevent mobility. Developing the skills needed to pull up to a standing position and start walking can be delayed. The brace can also reduce pulmonary (lung) function. This puts the child at risk for upper respiratory infections. Because of the potential problems, parents are informed of the risks and benefits of bracing. Most parents won't go ahead with the expense and bother of bracing if they don't understand the importance of this kind of prevention. It may be helpful if you ask your daughter what she has been told are the benefits and reasons for bracing. It may be a lack of understanding of the importance of this important tool.