Pronounced: AY-nal ah-TRE-zhuh
by Diana Kohnle
Anal atresia is a condition that a baby is born with. It is a problem with the development of the anus and the part of the intestine just over the anus. Anal atresia can make it difficult or impossible for the child to pass stool. The specific problems can vary from person to person but may include:
Most of the time, anal atresia can be corrected.
An unborn baby's intestines develop during the fifth to seventh week of pregnancy. A disturbance in this development causes anal atresia. The exact reason for the disturbance isn't clear.
Anal atresia happens in boys twice as often as girls. It may also occur with other birth defects. The use of steroid inhalers by the mother during pregnancy may be linked to anal atresia.
If your baby has anal atresia, symptoms may include:
Milder anal atresia may not be apparent until later in life. It may show as a lack of bowel control by age 3.
Your doctor will ask about your baby's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken of your baby's bodily structures. This can be done with:
Talk with your child's doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include:
Surgery may be an option to correct the anal atresia. The exact surgery will depend on the defects that are present. Options include:
Temporary Colostomy of an Infant
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
There is no known way to prevent anal atresia.
American Academy of Pediatrics
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
About Kids Health
Imperforate anus. Cincinnati Children's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/i/imperforate-anus/ . Updated July 2010. Accessed July 22, 2013.
Imperforate anus. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated June 13, 2012. Accessed July 22, 2013.
Scott, J, Swenson O. Imperforate anus: results in 63 cases and some anatomical considerations. Tufts University Medical School publication website Available at:
. Accessed July 22, 2013.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2013