Intestinal Atresia and Stenosis | Symptoms & Causes

What causes intestinal atresia and stenosis?

Experts believe that intestinal atresia and stenosis are caused by an inadequate supply of blood to your baby's intestines during fetal development. They appear to run in families, although a specific genetic cause has yet to be discovered.

What are the symptoms of intestinal atresia and stenosis?

The small intestine (small bowel) varies in length between 10 and 28 feet, and is divided into three main sections: the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. Intestinal obstructions are usually classified according to where in your child's intestine the absence, blockage or narrowing is found. Obstruction in the duodenum is known as duodenal atresia/stenosis and obstructions in the jejunum or the ileum are both called jejunoileal atresia/stenosis.

Jejunal obstruction may accompany intestinal malrotation, hernia or abdominal wall defects that strangle the small intestine, interrupting its blood supply. About half of all infants with duodenal obstruction are born prematurely, and more than 30 percent have Down syndrome. Between 50 and 75 percent have other anomalies, which often affect other parts of the digestive system, the heart or the kidneys.

If your baby has an intestinal obstruction, it will usually be discovered within a day or two of his birth. You or your child's doctors may notice that your baby:

  • doesn't tolerate feedings
  • is vomiting
  • has an abdomen looks bloated (distended)