BACKGROUND: The pathogenesis of congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a severe birth defect, is not well understood; however, both developmental genes and environmental factors have been suggested to be involved. CDH is frequently associated with malformations of other structures, such as limbs, whose embryogenesis is better understood. An examination of the co-occurrence of developmental defects may provide clues as to the origin and timing of the insult to the diaphragm and limbs. Our focus was on CDH-associated limb-reduction defects (LRDs). METHODS: For this descriptive study, we reviewed the medical records of infants with a posterolateral (Bochdalek) CDH and an associated LRD among 146 patients from the Sophia Children's Hospital, and among 810 infants and 36 stillbirths from the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program (CBDMP). RESULTS: In the hospital group, 14 patients (10%) had an associated limb defect, of which about one-third were LRDs (of these, most were of a nonsevere type, such as hypoplasia of fingers). In the registry group, a limb defect was found in 162 cases (18.5%), 18 of which were mostly severe LRD (usually of the upper extremities). Additional congenital anomalies were observed in all CDH-LRD cases in both groups. CONCLUSIONS: In the registry group, 77.8% of LRDs were either bilateral or ipsilateral, and were mostly preaxial, suggesting an early embryological insult affecting both precursor anlages. These results, from large numbers of cases, support the notion of a developmental association between CDH and LRD, as has been observed in several knockout mice. Future analyses of candidate genes from patients with CDH and LRD may elucidate this developmental association in humans.

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Journal Birth Defects Research. Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology
van Dooren, M.F, Brooks, A.S, Tibboel, D, & Torfs, C.P. (2003). Association of congenital diaphragmatic hernia with limb-reduction defects. Birth Defects Research. Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology (Vol. 67, pp. 578–584). doi:10.1002/bdra.10079