Pediatric Bowel Atresia

Pediatric Bowel Atresia



Bowel atresia happens when part of a child’s intestine does not form correctly and there is a blockage.

Expanded overview

Bowel atresia is a birth defect that causes the narrowing or absence of one or more parts of a child’s intestines. In some cases of bowel atresia, the intestine is closed off in one or more places. In other cases, there are missing segments of the intestine. In both cases, this leads to a complete blockage in the intestine. When a child is born with bowel atresia, food and waste (stool) are unable to move through the intestines, causing serious health problems.


Bowel atresia is a birth defect, meaning your child is born with the condition. It is thought to be caused by poor blood supply to a fetus’ intestines during pregnancy.


In some cases, symptoms of bowel atresia happen before a child is born. Your doctor may see signs of extra amniotic fluid outside the womb, indicating that your baby’s intestines are not absorbing enough amniotic fluid and there may be a blockage.

Most of the time, symptoms of bowel atresia do not show up until one or two days after birth. Symptoms may include:

  • Lack of bowel movement
  • Refusal to breast or bottle feed
  • Swollen belly
  • Yellow or green vomit

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