We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Esophageal Atresia?

Niki Acker
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Esophageal atresia is a birth defect in which the esophagus, the tube normally leading from the throat to the stomach, ends in a blind pouch instead of reaching the stomach. The condition may also present with one or more fistulas, or abnormal passageways, between the espohagus and the trachea or windpipe, called tracheoesophageal fistulas. Esophageal atresia is a rare condition, present in about one in 4425 live births. The causes of the condition are unknown.

Esophageal atresia develops in the fourth fetal week. It can be diagnosed at birth, or prior to birth through ultrasound. Symptoms of esophageal atresia in a newborn include drooling due to an inability to swallow saliva, choking, coughing, and sneezing. The baby may also become cyanotic, meaning the skin turns blue, due to lack of oxygen.

If esophageal atresia is suspected, it can be diagnosed through placing a catheter down the baby's throat, or by placing barium, a chalk-like liquid, in the mouth, and then taking an x-ray. The catheter or barium will show up on the x-ray image, indicating the endpoint of the esophagus. Esophageal atresia can then be surgically repaired.

In some cases, if the gap between the two portions of the esophagus are too far apart, it is not possible to repair the defect through surgery. Instead, a gastrostomy is performed, allowing tube feeding directly into the stomach. An esophagostomy may also be performed, allowing saliva to drain outside the body directly from the esophagus through a tube. Often, the esophageal atresia can be surgically repaired later in life in such cases.

Even after surgical repair, esophageal atresia can have complications. These may include frequent heartburn and trouble swallowing, or the development of a leak or a tight spot in the esophagus at the site of repair. Further surgery can be helpful to manage these complications.

A possible serious complication of atresia of the esophagus is tracheomalacia, or a weakening of the trachea. This condition can cause fluid buildup during feeding and obstruction of the trachea, leading to severe hypoxia or lack of oxygen. Tracheomalacia sometimes resolves itself, as the trachea stiffens as the child matures, and sometimes it can be repaired by fairly simple surgery, such as the placement of a stent to support the trachea.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a WiseGeek editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
Discussion Comments
Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a WiseGeek editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.