What causes VATER association?
No specific genetic or chromosome problem has been identified with VATER association. VATER can be
seen with some chromosomal defects such as Trisomy 18 and is more frequently seen in babies of diabetic mothers. VATER association,
however, is most likely caused by multiple factors.
What if my baby is diagnosed with VATER association?
The important thing is to identify all of the possible associated defects and
treat them accordingly. Unless there are several very severe defects, babies with VATER association do well and can lead normal
What is VATERS?
VATERS which is also referred to as VACTERL association. It is a association characterized by the
sporadic, nonrandom association of specific abnormalities. Each letter stands for a specific abnormality.
V: Vertebral dysgenesis
A: Anal atresia
C: Cardiac anomalies
T-E: Fistula +/- esophageal atresia
R: Renal or Radius anomalies
L: Limb anomalies A person with more than two problems in any combination may be recognized
as fitting in the VATER Association. However, VATER Association is not a diagnosis. There is no one cause for the association
of these problems in individuals.
If VATER Association is not a diagnosis, why label my child with it?
The VATER acronym is a tool for physicians. These groupings of problems tend to occur together
more often than can be explained by chance. If a physician sees at least two problems that fit within the VATER Association,
he/she knows to look for other related problems.
Problems that are identified early can often be fixed with surgery or treated with medicines or other
therapies before your child has major complications. Therefore, several different specialists may see your child and have
several different tests done. Possible diagnoses to explain the associated problems in your child will be explored. However,
a specific diagnosis is not identified in the majority of children who have two or more of the associated problems.
What can I expect for my child who has problems that fit within the VATER Association?
Children who have VATER associated problems may have delayed growth
and development in the early years. The majority of children have normal intelligence. The specific needs for each child who
has associated problems vary. One child may have heart, kidney and spine problems. Another child may have a missing or unusually
formed thumb and a tracheal esophageal fistula. Comparisons between the two children cannot be made.
For this reason, you will need to talk to your child's specialists
to know what to expect. Write down questions before you meet with each physician. Make sure he/she answers each question or
concern. If you do not understand, say so and ask him/her to repeat what was said in simpler terms.
Can this happen in future children?
Sometimes VATER Association problems can be
due to known syndromes. If this is the case with your child, a genetic professional can discuss the chances of the syndrome
In most cases, a cause cannot be found which explains the VATER
Association problems. Such associated problems do not appear to run in families. No specific drug, chemical, radiation or
other environmental factor has been shown to cause the associated problems. Parents can often be reassured that nothing they
did or didn't do during pregnancy caused this to happen in their child.
Without a genetic diagnosis, the chance
of VATER Association problems occuring in future pregnancies is low. This is also true for the offspring of the child who
has VATER Association problems.
Can this be detected before the child is born?
Many of the VATER Association problems can be detected by a level-two ultrasound. It can be done
as early as 18 weeks in pregnancy. The unborn child's bony structures and major organs are closely examined with the ultrasound.
Talk with your obstetrician if you are interested in having this done.