Each day, an estimated five children within the U.S. are born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a diaphragmatic defect which is fatal in approximately 33% of cases. While these hernias can be fixed through surgical intervention or synthetic patches, researchers and scientists believe that a more effective treatment measure is needed. According to News Medical, Yi Hong, a researcher from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), is working to develop a biodegradable elastic patch which he believes would better suit the needs of patients.
Current measures of intervention may fix hernias, but can also lead to other issues. For example, synthetic patches are unable to naturally grow with the person or the body. As a result, another hernia may develop or the patch may break, causing the need for additional intervention. This biodegradable and elastic patch offers the ability to treat CDH in a more effective way. The patch would be able to move and stretch as the body grew, helping it to remain steadfast over time.
Yi Hong is collaborating with other researchers to develop this patch. Their research is funded by an NIH grant of $441K.
What is Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH)?
Congenital diaphragmatic hernia is a rare condition characterized by a diaphragmatic defect. Normally, the diaphragm separates the abdominal organs from the organs in the chest. CDH occurs when the diaphragm doesn’t close properly during prenatal development. As a result, a baby is born with an absent or partially formed diaphragm. The abdominal organs then herniate into the chest, crowding the heart and lungs, causing underdeveloped lungs, and leading to other potential health issues. CDH is typically classified by its location/position. For example, 80-90% of CDH are Bochdalek hernias, which are characterized by side or back diaphragmatic defects. Morgagni hernias affect the front of the diaphragm. Doctors believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may cause CDH. Symptoms are more common in Bochdalek hernias and can (but do not always) include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Cyanosis (blueish color of the skin and lips)
- Rapid heart rate
- Quick breathing
- Abnormal chest development (with one side larger than the other)
- Abdomen appearing to cave inwards
Want to learn more about CDH? Check out CDH International.