A healthy digestive system is way more important than you think. Whether it is about a newborn or an adult, it is equally painful and alarming to have any difficulty in stool passing. One such condition is called Hirschsprung’s disease. It is a congenital disease, which means It is present during childbirth. It causes missing nerve cells in the muscles of the baby's large intestine which makes it difficult to pass a stool.
When my niece was born, she was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s disease. We immediately took her to the best pediatric surgeon in Karachi we could find because we were told that surgery was the only treatment. I did my own research about the disease from different authentic sources and here is what I found:
Symptoms of Hirschsprung’s Disease
Although the symptoms of Hirschsprung’s disease largely depend on its severity, the most prominent symptom is when the newborn child fails to pass the stool within 48 hours of birth. But some other symptoms might include swelling in the abdomen, constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting especially with brown and green particles in it.
If there is an older child diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s disease then the symptoms might be fatigue, swollen belly, gas, and constipation.
Causes of Hirschsprung’s Disease
Although research shows that every 1 in 5000 babies is born with Hirschsprung’s disease but still the cause of this disease is unknown. Most often it has proven to be a genetic mutation where the muscle contractions which move food via the bowels are regulated by nerves in the large intestine. But without contractions, in the colon, feces persists.
Hirschsprung’s disease is actually common in male children as compared to females so that adds the risk.
Family Medical History
If the child belongs to a family where their sibling or their parent had Hirschsprung’s disease, the child is automatically prone to the disease.
Other Medical Condition
Children with genetic abnormalities like Down syndrome and congenital heart disease are at high risk.
Hirschsprung’s disease is an alarming disorder and requires immediate action. If treated on time it can be cured. However, the only method of treatment is surgery.
There are two different surgical procedure for the treatment of Hirschsprung’s disease called:
It is a procedure where the part of the large intestine that misses the nerve is cut out and the rest of it is directly connected to the anus to ensure smooth stool passing.
The intestine is redirected to a cavity created in the colon by this process. On the outside of the cut, the surgeon then adds an ostomy bag to carry the feces from the colon. Ostomy surgery is usually a short - term intervention before the pull-through operation is available for the infant.
The cure rate of Hirschsprung’s disease is 95%. That means that it is not life-threatening and can be further managed by taking preventive measures. The prevention includes a balanced diet and a lot of fluid intakes.