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Causes of Diastasis Recti

A separation of the right and the left sides of the rectus abdominis muscles is a condition known as diastasis recti. According to DeGowin’s Diagnostic Examination, physicians often uncover the condition when a patient raises his head and tenses his abdominal muscles 1. A longitudinal ridge or bulge is evident in the contracted abdominal muscles. Diastasis recti can be congenital or acquired.

Congenital

Diastasis recti is a common condition in newborns, especially in premature and African American babies. The condition occurs when the rectus abdominis muscles insert in the ribs farther from the midline than normal. According to Rudolph's Pediatrics, caregivers may often see a separation between the rectus muscles in the midline when the infant is crying.

Acquired

Diastasis recti is more commonly acquired. Often the abdominal wall cannot withstand the pressure that occurs in conditions such as:

  • multiple births
  • high-birth-weight infants
  • repeated pregnancies
  • poor abdominal tone
  • obesity
  • aging

Chromosomal

According to the Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals, diastasis recti can also occur in trisomy 18, a genetic disorder in which hernias, cryptorchidism and increased skin folds around the neck also are common. Cryptorchidism is a condition in which one or both testicles do not to descend into the scrotum. An abnormally clenched fist, clubfeet or rocker-bottom feet and severe congenital heart disease and anomalies of the lung, ureters, diaphragm and gastrointestinal tract are often present in trisomy 18. Trisomy 18 is also known as Edwards' syndrome or trisomy E.

The Wrap Up

A separation of the right and the left sides of the rectus abdominis muscles is a condition known as diastasis recti. Diastasis recti can be congenital or acquired. According to Rudolph's Pediatrics, caregivers may often see a separation between the rectus muscles in the midline when the infant is crying.

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