A diaphragmatic hernia is an abnormal opening in the diaphragm. This rare defect is usually a congenital disability but can develop from trauma and damage later in life as well. The diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle between the chest and abdomen that assists with breathing. A wide variety of complications can arise from a diaphragmatic hernia, many of which are life-threatening.
A fetus can develop a hole in the diaphragm during development in the womb. This is known as congenital diaphragmatic hernia and though this is the most common form of the condition, it occurs in less than five births out of ten thousand. CDH causes the abdominal organs to herniate into the chest cavity, which affects the development of the lungs and heart. Around one-third of affected children have cardiovascular defects and others may experience skeletal, neural, or gastrointestinal issues, though problems are not limited to those areas. There are different classifications of CDH.
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