how common is scoliosis

Your brown eyes, red hair, and the shape of your nose — all traits you can inherit from your mother and father.

On the other hand, how someone develops scoliosis, and why it is more common among women than men, remains more of a mystery.

Scoliosis is a disorder that causes your spine to curve in the shape of a “C” or an “S.” Idiopathic scoliosis is a specific type of scoliosis that develops for unknown reasons. Spinal curvature due to scoliosis can range from mild to severe.

Learn more from the Spine Center at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

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What Causes Scoliosis?

Doctors do not know why some people are more likely to develop scoliosis than others. They also do not fully understand why girls suffer from the condition more than boys.

Factors such as family history may or may not contribute to a child developing scoliosis. Doctors do believe genetics play a role in the development of this condition.

RELATED: Scoliosis Frequently Asked Questions

Scoliosis typically appears before or during puberty. Major growth spurts that occur right before puberty might be related to scoliosis. Girls who are taller than other children their age also have an increased risk for scoliosis.

The hormone leptin may also be linked to scoliosis. Leptin tells your brain when you are full, and affects the activity of your Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). Studies found girls who have higher amounts of both this hormone and SNS activity are more likely to have scoliosis.

If you suspect your child may have scoliosis, contact the UPMC Children‘s Hospital Department of Orthopaedics for more information about receiving a diagnosis and treatment options.

Scoliosis in Girls

Even though we may not know why scoliosis develops, we do know scoliosis occurs more frequently in females than males.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, idiopathic scoliosis occurs ten times more often in girls than it does in boys over the age of 10. Another group of doctors at Indiana University Health revealed 10 percent of women in the US have scoliosis compared to only 5 percent of men.

Not only are girls more likely to develop scoliosis, but they are also more likely to develop severe curves from the disorder as well.

When a girl receives a diagnosis of scoliosis, the chance of her curve worsening is up to eight times more likely than in a boy of similar age.

For more information, visit the Spine Center page on the UPMC Children’s website.

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh ranks consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital is a longtime national leader for women and their newborns. We aim to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond.