Your nasal bridge is the bony area at the top of your nose. If you have a low nasal bridge, that area is flat and does not protrude as would be considered normal. The degree of flatness can vary depending on the person.
A low nasal bridge is sometimes caused by infectious disease or genetic disorders. The underlying cause is usually determined and treated shortly after birth. An infant’s features are naturally underdeveloped at birth. Over time, his or her nasal bridge may acquire a more normal appearance.
If you or your child has a low nasal bridge (also called saddle nose), the condition typically will not impair breathing. You can have your nasal bridge reshaped by plastic surgery if its appearance bothers you.
The facial features of infants and young children are naturally underdeveloped. In the absence of underlying disease, a child’s facial features will develop and become more prominent as he or she grows. If your child has a low nasal bridge but no other symptoms or signs of health problems or genetic abnormalities, there is generally no cause for concern. If you are unsure whether the shape of your child’s nose is normal, make an appointment with your pediatrician.
The underlying causes of a low nasal bridge are present at birth. They are usually diagnosed at or shortly after birth. Underlying causes include genetic disorders, birth defects, and infectious disease.
Abnormal genes that are passed from parents to their child cause genetic disorders. These disorders are not curable. The following genetic disorders can cause a low nasal bridge.
Cleidocranial dysostosis causes an individual’s skull and collarbone to develop abnormally. Some people with cleidocranial dysostosis may have a low nasal bridge.
Williams syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects many areas of the body. It is caused by the deletion of genetic material from chromosome 7. The deleted material includes more than 25 genes.
People with Williams syndrome have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, and distinctive facial features. Williams syndrome also causes bone deformities like a low nasal bridge.
Down syndrome is caused by trisomy 21. This means every cell in the body has three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two. People with Down syndrome have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, and unusual facial and body features. People with Down syndrome commonly have flattened facial features, which may include a low nasal bridge.
Birth defects caused by fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) may also cause a low nasal bridge.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
FAS is a group of birth defects that an infant may have if his or her mother drank alcoholic beverages during her pregnancy. The chances of FAS are highest if the mother drinks alcoholic beverages during the first trimester of her pregnancy.
FAS causes nervous system problems, growth deficiencies, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and facial abnormalities. A low nasal bridge is seen in some children who have FAS.
An infectious disease is caused by an acquired infection. Congenital syphilis can cause a low nasal bridge. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). If a pregnant woman has syphilis during her pregnancy, she can pass it to her child through the placenta. This can also happen through contact with the vaginal canal during delivery.
Congenital syphilis is a severe and potentially life-threatening infection in infants. Infants with congenital syphilis are treated with antibiotics to kill the infection. However, the treatment has a low success rate.
Almost 50 percent of infants with congenital syphilis are stillborn or die shortly after birth, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH, 2012). An infant who survives may have severe health problems such as blindness, deafness, neurological problems, and bone deformities such as a low nasal bridge.
If your doctor suspects that the shape of your child’s nose is caused by an underlying problem, he or she may order tests to detect genetic abnormalities or other health problems. Tests may include:
- X-rays to look at the structure of your child’s nose
- chromosome tests to detect genetic abnormalities
- blood tests to detect infections and check enzyme levels
A low nasal bridge generally does not cause any health problems, so plastic surgery is usually not necessary. If you are unhappy with the appearance of your nose, talk to a plastic surgeon about how plastic surgery can reshape your nasal bridge. The results of surgery will depend on the flatness of your nasal bridge, as well as your other facial features.