Hirschsprung’s Disease | Causes & Risk Factors


What causes Hirschsprung's disease?

As a baby grows in the womb, the ganglion cells grow from the top of the intestine to the anus. When a baby has Hirschsprung's disease, these nerve cells don't grow all the way to the anus. Doctor's don't know why the nerve cells stop growing, but it isn't caused by anything the mother does or eats while she is pregnant.

Hirschsprung's disease can be hereditary, meaning a parent could pass it on to a child. Children with Down syndrome are at a higher risk of having Hirschsprung's disease. The disease, which affects about 1 in every 5,000 newborns, is 5 times more frequent in males than in females.


Hirschsprung's Disease: Diagnosis and Management by J Kessmann, M.D. (American Family Physician October 15, 2006, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20061015/1319.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 12/06