About sacral regression

What is sacral regression?

Caudal Regression Syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by abnormal development of the lower spine end of the developing fetus. A wide range of abnormalities may occur including partial absence of the tailbone end of the spine causing no apparent symptoms, to extensive abnormalities of the lower vertebrae, pelvis, and spine. Neurological impairment as well as inability to control urination and bowel movements (incontinence) may occur in severe cases.



What are the symptoms for sacral regression?

Your child’s symptoms will depend on the type of caudal regression syndrome that’s diagnosed.

Mild cases may not cause any noticeable changes in your child’s appearance. But in severe cases, your child may have visible differences in the leg and hip area. For example, their legs may be permanently bent in a “frog-like” stance.

Other visible characteristics may include:

  • spine curving (scoliosis)
  • flat buttocks that are noticeably dimpled
  • feet bent upward at a sharp angle (calcaneovalgus)
  • clubfoot
  • imperforate anus
  • opening of the penis on the underside instead of the tip (hypospadias)
  • testicles not descending
  • not having any genitals (genital agenesis)

Your child may also experience the following internal complications:

  • abnormally developed or missing kidneys (renal agenesis)
  • kidneys that have grown together (horseshoe kidney)
  • nerve damage to the bladder (neurogenic bladder)
  • bladder that sits outside of the abdomen (bladder exstrophy)
  • misshapen large intestine or large intestine that sits abnormally in the gut
  • intestine that pushes through weak areas of the groin (inguinal hernia)
  • vagina and rectum that are connected

These characteristics can lead to symptoms such as:

  • lack of feeling in your legs
  • constipation
  • urinary incontinence
  • bowel incontinence



What are the causes for sacral regression?

The exact cause of caudal regression syndrome isn’t always clear. Some research suggests that having diabetes during pregnancy, especially if it isn’t managed, can increase the chance of your child’s caudal region not fully developing.

Since this condition also occurs in infants born to those without diabetes, there may be other genetic and environmental factors involved.



What are the treatments for sacral regression?

Treatment depends on how severe your child’s symptoms are.

In some cases, your child may need special shoes, leg braces, or crutches to help them walk and move around. Physical therapy may also help your child build strength in their lower body and gain control of their movements.

If your child’s legs didn’t develop, they may be able to walk using artificial, or prosthetic, legs.

If your child has trouble controlling their bladder, they may need a catheter to drain urine. If your child has an imperforate anus, they may need surgery to open a hole in their intestine and pass stools outside of their body into a bag.

Surgery can also be done to treat certain symptoms, such as bladder exstrophy and inguinal hernia. Surgery performed to treat these symptoms usually resolves them completely.



What are the risk factors for sacral regression?

The exact cause of caudal regression syndrome isn’t always clear. Some research suggests that having diabetes during pregnancy, especially if it isn’t managed, can increase the chance of your child’s caudal region not fully developing.

Since this condition also occurs in infants born to those without diabetes, there may be other genetic and environmental factors involved.



Video related to sacral regression