VACTERL Association

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

It is possible that the main title of the report VACTERL Association is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • VATERS association
  • VACTERLS association
  • VATER association

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

VACTERL association is a nonrandom association of birth defects that affects multiple median and para-median structures. The term VACTERL is an acronym with each letter representing the first letter of one of the more common findings seen in affected children:

(V) = (costo-) vertebral abnormalities
(A) = anal atresia
(C) = cardiac (heart) defects
(TE) = tracheal-esophageal abnormalities, including atresia, stenosis and fistula
(R) = renal (kidney) and radial abnormalities
(L) = (non-radial) limb abnormalities
(S) = single umbilical artery

Variability of such associations is wide and the relevance of each component usually varies by the observers. For this reason, from an original nucleus of "VATER" anomalies, the subsequent observation of an increased rate of heart malformations (C), non-radial limb anomalies (L) and single umbilical artery (S) expanded the phenotypic continuum grouping together all these conditions (i.e. VATER, VACTER, VACTERL and VACTERLS associations). At the moment, VACTERL association is the most frequently used term to define this condition. In addition, to the above mentioned features, affected children may also exhibit pre- and/or post-natal growth deficiency with failure to gain weight and grow at the expected rate (failure to thrive). Further low-frequency findings include facial asymmetry (hemifacial microsomia), external ear malformations, lung lobation defects, intestinal malrotation and genital anomalies. VATER/VACTERL features are more common in twinning. In some cases, the acronym VATER association is used. Mental functioning and intelligence is usually unaffected; developmental delay/mental retardation should suggest an alternative diagnosis. The exact cause of VACTERL association is unknown. Most cases occur randomly, for no apparent reason (sporadic).


March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel: (914)997-4488
Fax: (914)997-4763

Pull-Thru Network
1705 Wintergreen Parkway
Normal, IL 61761
Tel: (309)262-2930

Oley Foundation
43 New Scotland Ave., MC-28
Albany Medical Center
Albany, NY 12208-3478
Tel: (518)262-5079
Fax: (518)262-5528
Tel: (800)776-6539

EA/TEF Child and Family Support Connection, Inc.
111 West Jackson Boulevard
Suite 1145
Chicago, IL 60604-3502
Tel: (312)987-9085
Fax: (312)987-9086

Tracheo Oesophageal Fistula Support
St. George's Centre
91 Victory Road
Nottingham, NG4 2NN
United Kingdom
Tel: 4401159613092
Fax: 4401159613097

VATER Connection Support

Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc.
976 Lake Baldwin Lane
Orlando, FL 32814
Tel: (407)895-0802

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
TDD: (888)205-3223

Fetal Hope Foundation
9786 South Holland Street
Littleton, CO 80127
Tel: (303)932-0553
Tel: (877)789-4673

Cleft Lip and Palate Foundation of Smiles
2044 Michael Ave SW
Wyoming, MI 49509
Tel: (616)329-1335

For a Complete Report

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The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

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Last Updated:  3/16/2012
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