Congenital and Neonatal Disease - Pathology

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  • Changes in the patterns of growth and differentation result in growth disorders.
    • These changes may be in single cells, tissues or organs.
  • There are two types of growth disorders.
    1. Malformations
      • Occur during gestation.
    2. Congenital
      • Detected at birth.
  • Some growth disorders have a heriditary input.
    • Occur as a result of genetically transmitted disease.
  • Some growth disorders occur as a sequl to a variety of insults to the foetus during gestation.
  • Only a few malformations are readily accessible to surgical correction.

Causes of Malformations

  • There are many causes of malformations in animals.
  • If the insult occurs early in gestation and is sufficiently severe, it will result in foetal death, resorption and infertility.
  • If the insult occurs late in gestation, the malformation will be more limited and the foetus usually survives.

Chromosomal Defects

Viral Diseases

  • Some viruses are able to cross the placenta and cause damage to foetal tissues.
  • For example:
    • Border Disease Virus in lambs.
    • Cerebellar hypoplasia in kittens caused by parvovirus.


  • For example, toxic plants ingested by the dam during pregnancy.
    • Veratrum californicum
      • May produce cyclopia in lambs when ingested by the dam in early pregnancy.


  • Griseofulvin
    • Used to treat "ringworm" (dermatophytosis). ( for the treatment of dermatophytosis - 'ringworm' )
    • Can cause serious malformations in kittens if administered to a pregnant queen.
  • Oestrogens and Actinomycin D have also been associated with malformations.

Ionising Radiation

  • For example, X-rays.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Copper Deficiency

Vitamin Deficiencies

  • Vit. A and D deficiency can result in skeletal malformations.

Physical Factors

  • For example, adhesions between foetal membranes or umbilical cord.
    • Can result in amputation of skeletal segments.
      • Especially around limbs.


  • Lack of oxygen in gestation can result in malformations.



  • The presence of a single central eye as a result of facial deformity.

Bulldog Calf

Cleft Palate

Cystic Kidney

Spina Bifida


Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Skeletal Malformations

  • There are numerous skeletal malformations.
  • Include:
    • Absence of bones
    • Deformation
    • Shortening
    • Duplication
    • Hypoplasia

Skin Defects

Muscular Defects

  • E.g. defects in the thoracoabdominal walls resulting in exterioration of internal viscera.
    • Called "shistosoma".

Cardiac Defects

Sexual Organ Malformation

Metabolic Diseases

  • "Storage" diseases.
    • Vital enzymes are missing or defective within all cells.
  • These diseases express themselves as storage of intermediate products within cells.
  • Because neural tissue is a very sensitive tissue and cannot repair, these diseases usually express themselves as disease of the Central Nervous System.