Hirschsprung’s disease (Congenital Aganglionic Megacolon) is the congenital absence of or arrested development of parasympathetic ganglion cells in the intestinal wall, usually in the distal colon.
Signs and symptoms may vary with the severity of the condition. Sometimes they appear right after the baby is born. Other times they may not be apparent until the baby becomes a teenager or adult. In newborns, signs may include:
- Failure to pass stool within the first or second day of life
- Vomiting, including vomiting a green liquid called bile — a digestive fluid produced in the liver
- Constipation or gas, which may make a newborn fussy
In older children, signs can include:
- Swollen abdomen
- Lack of weight gain
- Problems absorbing nutrients, leading to weight loss, diarrhea or both and delayed or slowed growth
- Infections in the colon, especially in newborns or very young children, that may include enterocolitis, a serious infection with diarrhea, fever and vomiting and sometimes a dangerous expanding (dilation) of the colon
In older children or adults, signs may include chronic constipation and a low number of red blood cells (anemia) because blood is lost in the stool.