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Pediatric Hirschsprung Disease

What is Hirschsprung disease?

Hirschsprung disease occurs when some of the nerve cells that are normally present in the intestine do not form properly while a baby is developing during pregnancy.

As food is digested, muscles move food forward through the intestines in a movement called peristalsis. When we eat, nerve cells that are present in the wall of the intestines receive signals from the brain telling the intestinal muscles to move food forward.

In children with Hirschsprung disease, a lack of nerve cells in part of the intestine interrupts the signal from the brain and prevents peristalsis in that segment of the intestine. Because stool cannot move forward normally, the intestine can become partially or completely obstructed (blocked), and begins to expand to a larger than normal size.

The problems a child will experience with Hirschsprung disease depend on how much of the intestine has normal nerve cells present.

Children's Team

Children's Team

Providers

Anthony Sandler

Anthony Sandler

Senior Vice President and Surgeon-in-Chief
Joseph E. Robert Jr., Center for Surgical Care
Our Stories

Our Stories

Baby Mila in her stoller with a Happy New Year hat.

Mila's Story

As soon as Mila was born at 35.5 gestational weeks, it was clear something was terribly wrong. Mila’s breathing didn’t sound right. Her mother waited to hear her newborn cry. Following diagnostic imaging and genetic testing, her newborn daughter's health concerns were revealed. 

Departments

Departments

Comprehensive Motility Program

The Motility Program works to help treat a number of motility issues impacting your child’s digestive tract, including abdominal pain, aspirating, constipation and incontinence. Learn more about our Comprehensive Motility Program.

General and Thoracic Surgery

The pediatric surgical experts at Children’s National in Washington, D.C., provide advanced, comprehensive surgical care for infants, children and teenagers.

Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

Our gastroenterology experts provide expert diagnosis and treatments for children with digestive, liver and nutrition disorders.

Neonatology

Whether your infant has arrived prematurely or has a critical illness, the Children’s National Hospital top-ranked team assists in coordinating every service you and your baby need, including consultations, assessments, emergency treatments and continuing care.

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