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Babies with congenital surgical conditions

Signs & Symptoms

Malformations in organ systems can develop early in pregnancy and might be detectable during this period through ultrasound scans. However, some malformations become apparent only after the baby’s birth. While certain malformations are visibly external, others, such as congenital intestinal obstructions, may not be identifiable until a few days post-birth, evidenced by the baby’s inability to feed well, subsequent vomit or difficulty passing stools after milk feeds are started.

What causes it

These conditions may be linked to changes in the parents’ genetic material (chromosomes) or to environmental factors during early pregnancy. Often, the exact cause is unknown.

About the condition

Examples of these conditions include

1. Esophageal atresia and Tracheo-esophageal fistula

This involves an incomplete connection of the feeding tube (oesophagus) to the stomach and an abnormal linkage between the trachea (windpipe) and the oesophagus.

2. Anorectal malformation

This is characterised by either the absence of a rectal opening (imperforate anus) or an anomalously positioned anal opening. This condition may coexist with malformations of the heart, limbs and spine.

3. Urinary tract obstruction

In male infants, the presence of a posterior urethral valve can obstruct urine flow from the bladder, potentially leading to urinary tract infection and kidney damage if left untreated.

4. Branchial cyst

This presents as a fluid-filled swelling on the side of the neck, which, if sufficiently large, may cause breathing difficulties.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

‚ÄčThe treatment approach varies with each specific condition. Pre-surgery, it is essential to fast the affected infants and use an intravenous drip to maintain hydration. Postoperative care will be required in the Neonatal ICU.

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