What Are Congenital CNS Anomalies?

CNS Anomalies

Congenital anomalies of the central nervous system (CNS) are birth defects of the physical structure of the brain or spinal cord that occur during fetal intrauterine growth. In addition, there are other congenital anomalies that impact the growth and or development of the central nervous system and are often considered central nervous system diseases. This blanket term encompasses a broad range of disorders and medical conditions, from minor abnormalities to severe ones.

What Causes Congenital CNS Anomalies?

A wide range of factors can contribute to congenital CNS anomalies, although with many there are no known or identifiable causes. Genetic factors are known to cause if not contribute to congenital CNS anomalies. In other cases, exposure to one or more substances such as alcohol, drugs, medications, environmental toxins, other toxic substances, or certain viruses that infect the baby while in the womb, can contribute to the development of a CNS anomaly.

What You Need To Know

  • Congenital means present at birth. These conditions develop in utero, or when a fetus is developing during pregnancy.
  • These conditions may be mild and without symptoms, or they can be severe, requiring treatment.
  • Surgery for these conditions may be recommended to:
    • Address you or your child’s symptoms.
    • Correct the function and form of the brain and/or the structure of the spine.
    • Maximize cognitive and motor function.
    • Prevent development or progression of neurological deficits.

Advanced Expertise

At UChicago Medicine, our dedicated neurosurgeons are here to help. For more information about CNS Congenital Anomalies and the resources we have available, please contact the Margaret Hackett Family Program (MHFP) at mhfcp@bsd.uchicago.edu, or call 773-795-0622 to learn more.