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Muscle Defects

By

Simeon A. Boyadjiev Boyd

, MD, University of California, Davis

Last full review/revision Sep 2022| Content last modified Sep 2022
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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Babies can be born missing individual muscles or groups of muscles, or muscles can be incompletely developed.

Birth defects of the muscles can occur alone or as part of a syndrome.

The pectoralis major muscle (the major muscle in the chest, sometimes called the "pecs" in adults) can be partly developed or missing altogether. This defect can occur alone or with various hand, breast, or nipple abnormalities, as in Poland syndrome. The cause of most of these types of muscle disorders is unknown.

One or more layers of the abdominal muscles may be missing at birth, as in prune-belly syndrome. In this disorder, the missing layers of abdominal muscles cause the abdominal wall to have a wrinkled appearance, the testes do not descend into the scrotum (cryptorchidism Undescended testes Undescended testes (cryptorchidism) are testes that remain in the abdomen or the groin instead of descending into the scrotum. Retractile testes (hypermobile testes) have descended into the... read more Undescended testes ) in boys, and/or urinary tract defects develop. The cause of prune-belly syndrome is not clear.

Diagnosis of Muscle Defects

  • Before birth, ultrasonography

  • After birth, physical examination

  • Sometimes genetic testing

After birth, doctors can identify the defects during a physical examination.

Because abnormal genes may be involved in birth defects of the muscles, affected babies should be evaluated by a geneticist. A geneticist is a doctor who specializes in genetics (the science of genes and how certain qualities or traits are passed from parents to offspring). Genetic testing of a sample of the baby's blood may be done to look for chromosome and gene abnormalities. This testing can help doctors determine whether a specific genetic disorder is the cause and rule out other causes.

Treatment of Muscle Defects

  • Possibly surgery

Treatment of muscle defects depends on how severe the muscle defect is. The infant may need reconstructive surgery.

If an abnormal gene is found, families of affected children may benefit from genetic counseling.

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