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What Causes Pectus Excavatum ?

man holding the dent in his chest

It has long been speculated about the pectum excavatum causes. The first official findings date as far back as 2400 BC, found by historians who were studying relics from Ancient Egypt and found sculptures from man with weird shape of his chest. Medicine back then could not give an answer or explanation about that phenomenon, but today we have clear facts about what causes pectus excavatum.



Leonardo Da Vinci with pectus excavatum

Early autoportret of Leonardo Da vinci. Does he have pectus excavatum?

Can vitamin and nutrient deficit be considered as a pectus excavatum cause?

There has been much debate as whether lack of vitamins (especially Vitamin D )or other nutrients can be a cause forpectus excavatum. When the modern medical world first encountered with this deformity, it was logically connected with low bone density. Doctors thought that certain nutritional deficiencies would cause the bones to soften, which could lead to bending of the bones and the sunken chest. Exposure to sunlight, easiest way to get vitamin D,  helps with the absorption of calcium and is very good for the density of the bones. Although this theory does sound logical, nutritional deficiencies are wrong to be considered as a cause for pectus excavatum. There have been many cases of patients growing up in warm and sunny climates with high levels of vitamin D during their growth period and early adolescence and still developed the deformity.


Are genes the main cause for Pectus Excavatum ?

Although it can occur all by itself, without any signs or explanations, family history still  remains as one of the most common factors behind concave chest anomaly. Studies have confirmed up to 40% of family recurrence of the deformity. The transfer of the gene is usually autosomal dominant, meaning that only a single copy of the mutation is enough to develop the deformity. There are cases with autosomal recessive, but much more rarely. It is worth noting that the deformity isn’t necessarily passed from generation to generation, but can skip one or two generations.