Children's Health and Wellness

Congenital Laryngeal Stridor

What is congenital laryngeal stridor?

Congenital laryngeal stridor results from a congenital (present at birth) anomaly of the larynx (voice box). A weakness in the structures in the larynx, can cause stridor. Stridor is a high-pitched sound that is heard best when the child breathes in (inspiration), which indicates a partial obstruction in the upper airways. 

What causes congenital laryngeal stridor?

Congenital laryngeal stridor is a defect that is present at birth. During fetal development, the structures in the larynx may not fully develop. As a result, there is a weakness in these structures at birth, causing them to collapse during breathing. In children, congenital laryngeal stridor is the most common cause of chronic stridor.

What are the symptoms of congenital laryngeal stridor?

The major symptom of this disorder is the stridor that is heard as the infant breathes. The stridor is usually heard when the infant breathes in (inspiration), but can also be heard when the infant breaths out (expiration). Other characteristics of the stridor may include:

  • The stridor changes with activity.

  • The stridor is present during different phases of alertness--eating, sleeping, or excitement.

  • The stridor is usually less noisy when the child is laying on his or her stomach.

  • The stridor gets worse if the infant has an upper respiratory infection.

The symptoms of congenital laryngeal stridor may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.

How is congenital laryngeal stridor diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for congenital laryngeal stridor may include laryngoscopy or bronchoscopy of the airways--a procedure which involves a tube being passed into the airways to allow your child's doctor to observe the airways during breathing.

Treatment for congenital laryngeal stridor

In most cases, congenital laryngeal stridor is a harmless condition that resolves on its own, without medical intervention. Each child's case is unique. A small percentage develop severe respiratory problems which require medical and surgical interventions.

Print Source: Pediatric Otolaryngology, 4th Edition, Vol. 2. C.D. Bluestone. P 1460.
Print Source: Stridor in the Neonate and Young Child: Evaluation and Treatment of Underlying Causes. Mace, S. Consultant for Pediatricians. 2011, vol. 10, is. 11, pp. 379-86.
Online Source: American Academy of Otolaryngoloy: Head and Neck Surgery Foundationhttp://www.entnet.org/mktplace/upload/Oto-Primary-Care-FINALlow_nonumber.pdf
Online Source: Pediatric Care Onlinehttp://www.pediatriccareonline.org/pco/ub/view/Point-of-Care-Quick-Reference/397115/1/stridor
Online Editor: Geller, Arlene
Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Finke, Amy, RN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/24/2012
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