Possible outcomes and ongoing problems
The best possible outcome is if baby continues to improve and is transferred to your local special care baby unit and eventually you are able to take baby home. The length of time your baby will be in hospital can be anything from 6 weeks to over 12 months depending on whether baby improves quickly or experiences complications.
Once baby is home you can be expected to receive visits from outreach nurses and health visitors, who will help you with all aspects of baby’s ongoing recovery and issues. If all goes well your baby will have no lasting problems at all and will grow up to be a normal healthy adult. However, here are some of the things baby may experience as a consequence of CDH:
- Feeding issues such as baby being slow to breast or bottle feed which may affect growth and weight gain and in extreme cases; a failure to thrive. Occasionally a tube (NG tube) placed into baby’s nose and down into the stomach is necessary to administor feeds and sometimes medication.
- Reflux (gastric acid flowing from the stomach into the oesophagus), which can be distressing for baby and is usually treated with medication. In severe cases a procedure called a nissen fundoplication is carried out where the surgeon improves the natural barrier between the stomach and the oesophagus. This prevents the flow of acids from the stomach into the oesophagus, and strengthens the valve between the two, which stops acid from backing up into the oesophagus as easily.
- Speech and developmental issues resulting from artificial ventilation and long periods of hospitalisation. Your child will normally be referred to a specialist and speech therapist to deal with these issues.
- Hearing loss can occur and nobody knows exactly why this happens. Again, baby will be monitored throughout childhood by an audiologist (Hearing specialist) with regards to his or her hearing.
- Re-herniation is uncommon, but can be serious if it occurs. The signs that this may have happened are as follows:
- baby or child is generally unwell
- loss of appetite
- abdominal discomfort and or pain
- difficulty breathing
- vomiting (may contain bowel contents)
If you notice any of these signs contact your GP immediately or call an ambulance.