Short-term Complications


Pneumonia occurs when fluid or pus fills the lungs and prevent the alveoli, the small sacs that allow for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, from fully filling.  While it should be noted that various bacteria can also cause pneumonia, in the case of individuals with esophageal atresia and trachea-esophagela fistula, pneumonia usually results from fluids entering the lungs through the connection between the esophagus and trachea (known as a fistula).

Failure to Thrive

Failure to thrive is a general condition where a child does not achieve the expected weight and height standards for their age.  This condition can be attributed to children with EA/TEF who have difficulty eating in the period before and after their surgical correction.


Tracheomalacia is a condition where the esophagus is weakened due to the improper development of cartilage.  Children with tracheomalacia typically have noisy/high-pitched breathing which gets worse when they are crying, coughing or ill.  Tracheomalacia can also cause a characteristic seal-like cough.

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