Duodenal atresia is a condition in which there is a developmental problem with a baby’s duodenum. The duodenum is the part of the small intestine that connects the stomach to the rest the intestine. Atresia means that there is a blockage in this passageway. This limits food and fluid from leaving your baby’s stomach.
The blockages (also known as the atretic area) can be partial or complete.
Duodenal atresia is the most common duodenal obstruction (blockage) in newborns. It is found in about 1 in every 7,500 babies. Duodenal atresia can occur as an isolated condition (by itself with no other birth defects) or with other conditions.
In about 1 out of every 3 cases, babies with duodenal atresia also have a genetic condition called trisomy 21 (Down syndrome).
Doctors do not know exactly what causes duodenal atresia. They do know, however, that genetics may play a role. During pregnancy, your baby’s duodenum normally develops from a solid form into a hollow tube in a process called recanalization. If recanalization is interrupted, the duodenum does not form into a tube and the remaining solid parts are the cause of the atresia.