A congenital disorder of the colon. Its chief feature is impaired intestinal function. The affected part of the colon lacks nerve cells and so is unable to relax and contract properly. The result is chronic constipation, enlargement of the bowel and, in some infants, bowel obstruction. It almost always requires surgery to fix it.
Hirschsprung’s disease affects about 1 in every 5000 live births in the U.S. It is usually diagnosed in infancy and is more common in infants with Down syndrome. One of the first signs of this problem is often failure of an infant to pass stool in the first 72 hours of life.
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