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What causes congenital anomalies of the esophagus and trachea?
As a fetus is growing and developing in its mother's uterus before birth, different organ systems are developing and maturing. The trachea and the esophagus begin developing as one single tube. At about four to eight weeks after conception, a wall forms between the fetus' esophagus and trachea to separate them into two distinct tubes.
If this wall does not form properly these anomalies can occur.
How often do these problems occur?
About one in 3,000 to 5,000 babies in the United States is born with tracheoesophageal fistula or esophageal atresia. Other anomalies of the esophagus and trachea are even more rare.
These two problems are not thought to be inherited. Up to one-half of all babies with TEF or esophageal atresia have another birth defect, such as:
other digestive tract problems (such as diaphragmatic hernia, duodenal atresia or imperforate anus)
heart problems (such as ventricular septal defect, Tetralogy of Fallot or patent ductus arteriosus)
kidney and urinary tract problems (such as horseshoe or polycystic kidney, absent kidney or hypospadias)
muscular or skeletal problems
VATERL syndrome (which involves Vertebral, Anal, Cardiac, TE fistula, Renal and Limb abnormalities)
What are the symptoms of congenital anomalies of the esophagus and trachea?
The symptoms of TEF or esophageal atresia can usually be seen very soon after birth. Each child may experience symptoms differently, but here's a list of the most common ones:
Symptoms of TEF or esophageal atresia may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Please consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
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