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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
Esophageal atresia (EA) is a birth defect in which part of your baby’s esophagus is missing. Instead of forming a tube between the mouth and the stomach, the esophagus grows in two separate segments that do not connect.
Children with esophageal atresia almost always have another birth defect called tracheoesophageal fistula, or TEF (a fistula is an abnormal connection). The esophagus and trachea should be two separate, unconnected tubes, but in TEF, they're connected.
There are four types of esophageal atresia:
Without a working esophagus, your baby may be unable to swallow or feed normally. Once esophageal atresia is diagnosed, she will probably be fed intravenously at the hospital until doctors perform surgery to repair her esophagus.
About one in 4,000 babies in the United States is born with esophageal atresia, making it the 25th most common birth defect.
Without a working esophagus, it’s impossible to receive enough nutrition by mouth. Babies with esophageal atresia are also more prone to infections like pneumonia and conditions such as acid reflux. Luckily, esophageal atresia is most often correctable.
The exact cause of esophageal atresia is still unknown, but it appears to have some genetic components. Up to half of all babies born with esophageal atresia have one or more other birth defects, such as:
Esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula are also often found in babies born with VACTERL syndrome. This is a non-random collection of abnormalities that may also involve the spine, heart, lower digestive tract, kidneys and limbs. Not all babies born with VACTERL syndrome have abnormalities in all of these areas.
Long-gap esophageal atresia may also result from surgery to try to fix a milder case of esophageal atresia, or to repair a tracheoesophageal fistula.
The first signs of esophageal atresia are usually clearly seen very soon after birth. The most common are:
To make an appointment or speak with a member of our team, please call 617-355-3038.
For families residing outside of the United States, please call Boston Children's International Health Services at +01-617-355-5209.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”