Hirschsprung's Disease – Causes and Symptoms

Hirschsprung’s diseas

e is a congenital disease of the large intestine, also known as congenital intestinal aganglionosis (CIA). It causes severe constipation and intestinal obstruction in the individual. In this article we talk about the causes and symptoms of Hirschsprung disease.

Hirschsprung’s disease is named after Danish physician

Harald Hirschsprung

, who first identified the disease in 1886. In this disease, there is lack of nerve cells (ganglion) cells in a segment of the bowel. As a result, the normal movement of stool through the intestines is impaired.

Causes of Hirschsprung’s disease:

Any cause of congenital abnormalities is always not clear to understand. Normally during the gestational period, a child’s nerve cells grow along the intestines in the direction of the anus. In Hirschsprung disease, the nerve cells stop growing too early. Why is this so….is still not clear. Some studies ostend that it is passed from parent to child through genes. It is not caused by anything a mother did during the pregnancy.


Incidence of Hirschsprung’s disease is about one in 5000 births. It seen more in males than in females. The ratio may be as high as 1:4.

Symptoms of Hirschsprung’s disease:

A doctor diagnosing Hirschsprung’s disease finds enlarged section of the bowel proximally and the narrowed, aganglionic section distally. The affected area remains contracted due to absence of ganglion cells.

A newborn infant with this disease do not pass meconium (first stools of a newborn) within 24 hours after birth. Older infants with this disease may have:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Abdominal distention
  • Constipation from birth
  • Slow growth and development
  • Anemia


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