Idiopathic scoliosis (IS) is a condition characterized by a lateral curvature of the spine which appears during the juvenile to adolescent period with no known cause. Affected individuals are otherwise normal with no neurological or physical abnormalities. This deformity is structural and has a strong female predilection (7:1). Idiopathic scoliosis also occurs in the infantile period (less than the age of three years), however, in the US, later onset of IS is the most common form of this condition.
Many people are affected by scoliosis. Approximately 4 in 1,000 people in the United States have scoliosis, with a curve of at least twenty degrees. As the degree of curvature increases, the frequency of occurrence in the general population decreases. A survey of patients with scoliosis revealed a high prevalence in families of affected individuals, suggesting that genetics may be a factor contributing to the cause of scoliosis. To date, the location of the genes associated with IS have not been found. Knowledge of the genes could mean earlier diagnosis and identification of individuals at risk, as well as potentially result in a decrease in the number of people who would require braces and/or surgery.