VATER Association

What is VATER Association?

An “association” is a related group of abnormalities that occur more often than can be explained by chance. Each letter in the term VATER represents a different part of the body that may be affected. A child must have three or more of the VATER category birth defects to be diagnosed with VATER Association.

V–Vertebrae (spinal bones). Examples are abnormally formed vertebrae and extra ribs.
A–Anus. An example is an imperforate anus (no anal opening).
T–Trachea (windpipe). An example is tracheoesophageal fistula (connection between the trachea and esophagus).
E–Esophagus (tube from mouth to stomach). An example is esophageal atresia (part of the esophagus is missing).
R–Renal (kidney) and/or Radius (bone on the thumb side of forearm). Examples are missing, multiple, or horseshoe kidneys and missing arm bones.

Sometimes the terms VACTEL and VACTERL are used with the additional letters representing:

C–Cardiac (heart). Examples are a hole in the heart and missing arteries.
L–Limb (arm, hand, leg, or foot). Examples are missing fingers, missing bones in the limbs, and shortened limbs.


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