Children's Hospital Colorado
Spine Program

Early Onset Scoliosis (Ages 0-10 years)

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What is early onset scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine. Early onset scoliosis, or EOS, is diagnosed in children younger than 10. Adolescent scoliosis is diagnosed between ages 10 to 18.

Children with early onset scoliosis have many years of growth ahead of them. Treatment for this condition focuses on controlling an increase of the curve while allowing the spine and chest to grow.

Who gets early onset scoliosis?

Early onset scoliosis affects boys and girls equally. It’s more common in children with neuromuscular disorders and genetic syndromes.

Types of scoliosis

Types of early onset scoliosis include:

  • Idiopathic scoliosis
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis
  • Syndromic scoliosis
  • Congenital scoliosis
  • Scoliosis associated with tumors, infection, prior surgery or trauma

Idiopathic early onset scoliosis

Idiopathic early onset scoliosis doesn’t have an identifiable cause. It’s the most common type of early onset scoliosis.

  • Many infants with early onset scoliosis don’t need treatment to stabilize their spine. The curvature straightens out by itself as the child grows.
  • A small number of infants and toddlers have progressive idiopathic scoliosis, which means their spinal curve will continue or worsen as they grow.
  • In almost all cases of progressive EOS, a provider will perform an MRI of the spine to confirm that there is no underlying issue causing the scoliosis.

Congenital scoliosis

Congenital scoliosis occurs when a child's vertebrae (small bones forming the spine) don’t develop properly. It is usually diagnosed before the age of 10 and is a common cause of early onset scoliosis.

Doctors will recommend treatment based on the underlying problem in the spine and chest. Fortunately, many children never develop worse symptoms or need surgery.

Syndromic scoliosis

Syndromic scoliosis is associated with syndromes and genetic conditions, such as:

Neuromuscular scoliosis

Neuromuscular scoliosis is due to conditions that mostly affect the muscular and/or nervous systems, such as:

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