Oesophageal atresia, related malformations, and medical problems: a family study

Am J Med Genet. 1999 Jul 2;85(1):31-7. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-8628(19990702)85:1<31::aid-ajmg7>3.0.co;2-d.


Oesophageal atresia (OA) and tracheo-oesophageal fistula (TOF) are life-threatening malformations of generally undefined cause. Previous reports of familial cases suggest a genetic contribution. The pattern of inheritance appears non-Mendelian, i.e., multifactorial. Individuals with OA/TOF often have other malformations and medical problems. The aim of this study was to determine the association in OA/TOF cases and healthy control subjects of associated malformations, midline defects, and medical conditions. We also investigate the relationships of these conditions in the relatives of the cases and controls. The results show that infants with OA/TOF frequently have VACTERL anomalies (vertebral, 17%; anal, 12%; cardiac, 20%; renal, 16%; limb, 10%) and other midline defects (cleft lip and palate, 2%; sacral dysgenesis, 2%; urogenital anomalies, 5%). The following medical problems were also reported: oesophageal dysmotility, 21%; gastro-oesophageal reflux, 22%; chest infections, 6%; and autonomic dysfunction, 0.5%. The first-degree relatives of children with OA are much more likely to have one of the aforementioned malformations or medical conditions when compared with the control group: one or more VACTERL anomalies (P < 0.01), gastro-oesophageal reflux (P < 0.05), recurrent respiratory infections (P < 0.05), and autonomic dysfunction (P < 0.001). The more distant relatives also show an increased incidence of such problems although in this case the data must be viewed with caution. The results confirm that the associated malformations and related medical problems occur significantly more frequently in the relatives of individuals with OA/TOF. These families may prove valuable for linkage analysis in an attempt to determine the genetics of OA/TOF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / genetics
  • Abnormalities, Multiple / pathology*
  • Esophageal Atresia / genetics
  • Esophageal Atresia / pathology*
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Humans
  • Pedigree