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Hirschsprung's Disease

What Causes Hirschsprung's Disease?

Normally, nerve cells grow in the baby's intestine soon after he or she begins to grow in the womb. These nerve cells grow down from the top of the intestine all the way to the anus. With Hirschsprung's disease, the nerve cells stop growing before they reach the end of the intestine.
No one knows why the nerve cells stop growing. But we do know that it's not the mother's fault. Hirschsprung's disease isn't caused by anything the mother did while she was pregnant.
Some children with Hirschsprung's disease have other health problems as well, such as Down syndrome or other rare disorders.
In some cases, Hirschsprung's disease is hereditary, which means mothers and fathers could pass it to their children. This can happen even if the parents don't have Hirschsprung's disease. If you have one child with Hirschsprung's disease, you could have more children with it. Talk to your doctor about the risk of this happening.


The following points are important to keep in mind regarding Hirschsprung's disease:
  • Hirschsprung's disease (also sometimes called HD) is a disease of the large intestine.
  • The disease develops in children before they are born. It is not caused by anything the mother did while pregnant.
  • Symptoms of this disease include:


    • Delayed first bowel movement in newborns
    • Swollen abdomen and vomiting
    • Constipation since birth
    • Slow growth and development
    • Anemia.


  • Children with Hirschsprung's disease may get an infection, called enterocolitis, which can cause fever and diarrhea.
  • Hirschsprung's disease is a serious disease that needs to be treated right away. It is generally treated with pull-through surgery or, sometimes, with an ostomy.
  • After treatment, most children with Hirschsprung's disease lead normal lives.

Hirschsprung Disease

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