Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia

The absence or incomplete formation of the diaphragm which separates the chest from the abdomen. This allows for protrusion of abdominal organs into the chest and limited development of the lung on that same side.

# cared for
2004-2014: 136
average stay
57.3 days
overall survival
  • Breathing problems
  • Pulmonary hypoplasia
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Lymphatic problems
  • Feeding problems
criteria for discharge
  • Recovery from surgical repair of the diaphragm
  • Stable breathing
  • Tolerating feedings
  • Gaining weight

common questions

Will my baby have surgery right away?

Years of experience have taught us that a CDH is not a surgical emergency, but a physiological emergency. Your baby will be eligible to go to the Operating Room once the blood pressure in the vessels connecting the heart to the lungs has decreased.

Will my baby be able to breastfeed?

Breastmilk is certainly the most easily tolerated nutrition to provide your baby. Feedings will likely start with a small tube that goes into the baby’s nose and down to his or her stomach.  We will use expressed maternal milk as available. Once oral feedings are initiated, breastfeeding is certainly possible.

further reading


Comprehensive overview of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernias

Awareness and support services

ECMO statistics

ECMO stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. This term is used to describe the process used to circulate blood outside the body to add oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. An ECMO machine functions as an artificial lung working in addition to the patient’s own failing lungs.

Need for ECMO: 45%
Survival with ECMO: 82%
Discharged home in room air: 47%
Discharged home with oxygen: 53%

A neonatologist is available 24/7 for referral and case consultation