Growth Charts
Possible Newborn Health Problems
Heart Defects
Gastro-intestinal Tract Disorders
Duodenal Atresia
Hirschsprung's Disease
Imperforate Anus
Tracheo-oesophageal Fistula
Congenital Cataracts
Unusual Blood Results

Gastro-intestinal Tract Disorders

About 10% of our babies are born with a congenital disorder of their GI tract (gastro-intestinal tract).

Babies with GI tract disorders and Down syndrome are often very unwell and need to be in a neonatal intensive care unit. They often need major surgery.

The GI tract is the tube from the mouth to the anus; it takes in food, absorbs the nutrients and excretes the waste as faeces.

The oesophagus carries food from the mouth to the stomach where it is mixed.

The small intestine leads from the stomach and absorbs the nutrients from food. Bile (a greenish fluid that helps to digest fats) is added to the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum.

The small intestine joins the large intestine (colon) which absorbs water and makes formed faeces.

The junction is marked by the appendix.

The colon ends at the rectum, which stores faeces until it is time to push them out through the anus.


Babies with GI tract disorders need;
A drip into a vein to keep fluid and salt levels healthy

A long-line; a bigger drip for IV feeding. This is needed if the baby will be unable to take milk for more than a day or two. The nutrients given could burn the skin if given in an ordinary drip so go through a longer, fatter special drip into a big vein near the heart

A tube into the stomach through the nose (naso-gastric tube) or mouth (oro-gastric tube), this keeps the stomach empty so stomach contents don’t spill over into the lungs and cause pneumonia

A heart echo; to see if there is a heart defect that could cause problems during the operation (see heart defects section)

To be in a paediatric surgery centre; if not already there the baby will need to be moved to a unit in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington or Christchurch.