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Long-term analysis of children with esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: For children with esophageal atresia (EA) or tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF), the first years of life can be associated with many problems. Little is known about the long-term function of children who underwent repair as neonates. This study evaluates outcome and late sequelae of children with EA/TEF.

METHODS: Medical records of infants with esophageal anomalies (May 1972 through December 1990) were reviewed. Study parameters included demographics, dysphagia, frequent respiratory infections (> 3/yr), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), frequent choking, leak, stricture, and developmental delays (weight, height < 25%, < 5%, respectively).

RESULTS: Over 224 months, 69 infants (37 boys, 32 girls) were identified: type A, 10 infants; type B, 1; type C, 53; type D, 4; type E, 1. Mean follow-up was 125 months. During the first 5 years of follow-up, dysphagia (45%), respiratory infections (29%), and GERD (48%) were common as were growth delays. These problems improved as the children matured.

CONCLUSIONS: Children with esophageal anomalies face many difficulties during initial repair and frequently encounter problems years later. Support groups can foster child development and alleviate parent isolationism. Despite growth retardation, esophageal motility disorders, and frequent respiratory infections, children with EA/TEF continue to have a favorable long-term outcome.

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