Atresia Ani In Babies

Atresia ani in babies is also called imperforate anus. If atresia ani happens to your baby, it means that their colon or part of their colon has not formed properly, becoming blocked or very narrow. In some children, they might not have anal opening.

The colon is the rarest site of atresia in the gastrointestinal tract. It is necessary to have an immediate treatment as this is a very serious condition. Most babies will need surgery to repair the defect.  Unfortunately, the causes of atresia ani in babies are unknown.

Atresia ani in babies is relatively common (about 1/5000 newborn babies). It commonly occurs in baby boys more than in baby girls. Atresia ani can affect the child’s development greatly. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

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Causes of atresia ani in babies is still unknown. The condition may be caused by a defect happened in their genetic. This is a birth defect develops while your child has not been born yet, often during the fifth to seventh weeks of pregnancy. In this time, your child’s digestive system will develop and more specifically their anus will form.

There are many risk factors for atresia ani in babies, such as:

  • Gender: Atresia ani in babies occurs in boys more than girls, about 2 times;
  • Presence of other birth defects;
  • The use of steroid inhalers by mother during pregnancy.

The common symptoms of atresia ani in babies are:

  • Having no anal opening;
  • Having an anal opening in the wrong place, such as too close to the vagina;
  • Membrane covers the anal opening;
  • Intestines are not connected to the anus;
  • An abnormal connection between the intestines and urinary systems, allowing stool to pass through the urinary system, such as the urethra, vagina, scrotum, or the base of their penis;
  • Having no stool in the first 24 to 48 hours of life;
  • Having a swollen abdomen;
  • Having an abnormal connection, or fistula, between rectum and reproductive system or urinary tract;

Babies with atresua ani often have additional abnormalities, including:

  • Kidney and urinary tract defects;
  • Abnormalities of the spine;
  • Windpipe, or tracheal, defects;
  • Esophageal defects;
  • Defects of the arms and legs;
  • Down syndrome;
  • Hirschsprung’s disease;
  • Duodenal atresia, which is an improper development of the first part of the small bowel;
  • Congenital heart defects.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

Before birth, the mother’s ultrasound is used to check for any sign of blockage in the child’s digestive system, as well as any other abnormality in the child. If your doctor find too much amniotic fluid, this can be a sign of EA or other blockage of the baby’s digestive tract.

Atresia ani in babies is often diagnosed shortly after birth by performing a physical exam. The doctor will check the baby’s stomach for any sign of swelling and check their anus opening for any sign of abnormality.  The problem can be confirmed by using X-rays of the abdomen and abdominal ultrasound.

It’s important to perform tests for other abnormalities associated with this condition in order to have a suitable treatment strategies. Tests used may include:

  • X-rays to detect bone abnormalities of the spine.
  • Spinal ultrasound to detect abnormalities in the vertebral body, or bones of the spine.
  • Echocardiogram to detect cardiac anomalies.
  • MRI to detect evidence of esophageal defects such as formation of fistulae with the trachea, or windpipe.

Surgery is required in most cases of atresia ani in babies to open the blocked orifice. Depending on the situation of atresia ani in babies, surgeons will chose a suitable method for treatment, including:

  • Surgery to connect the anus and intestine if the intestine does not connect to anus.
  • Anoplasty to move the anus to the correct location if having an abnormal connection between intestine and urinary system.
  • Colostomy to attach a part of the intestine to an opening in the wall of the abdomen to allow waste to pass into a bag outside of the body.
  • Medications can be prescripted for pain relievers, for example: etaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®)

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you and your child cope with atresia ani in babies:

  • After surgery: follow the instruction of your healthcare provider to care the injury.
  • For long-term care:
  • Remember to see your doctors for frequently to check your child’s condition in follow-up visits.
  • Changing your child’s diet, their activity level and practice a suitable toilet habits to reduce constipation or incontinence.
  • Help your child learn to use their new anus.
  • Using devices to stimulate the nerves in the intestines.
  • Taking part in our one-week bowel management treatment program.
  • Having another surgery to improve bowel control, if needed.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

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