Useful information about the disease and general medical questions.

What does the OA and TOF mean?

OA/EA stands for oesophageal atresia – born without a complete oesophagus (food-pipe)

TOF/TEF stands for tracheo-oesophageal fistula – a connection between the trachea (windpipe) and oesophagus (food-pipe)

OA is a disease where a baby is born with an incomplete oesophagus (food/swallow-pipe) which means that no milk or food can pass down to the stomach. 

There is different types and some have a connection between a part of the oesophagus (food-pipe) and the trachea (windpipe) that is called a Tracheo-oesophageal fistula (TOF/TEF). 


Facts about OA/TOF.

1 in 2500 babies are born with an oesophageal atresia (OA) with or without a tracheo-oesophageal fistula (TOF) in the world.

In Africa (although mostly unknown) this is being estimated at 1 in 3000-4500.

What causes OA and TOF?

No specific cause has been identified thus far.  Some environmental factors, chromosomal abnormalities and specific genetic abnormalities have been associated.  Research is being done to try and find more specific causes.

What will happen to my baby?

The good news is that medicine has improved with times and the prognosis is mostly good.  If you know about this before your baby is born it is best to plan the birth at a hospital where there is a paediatric surgeon and a good ICU.  Your baby might be moved to a hospital with a surgeon and a neonatal ICU if not available at your hospital and where possible mom will go with  her baby.  Surgery is needed to connect the oesophagus (swallow pipe) with the stomach in order for baby to swallow milk and food.  If there is a connection to the trachea (air pipe) this will be closed at the same time.  All babies are different and sometimes other operations needs to be done to help your baby.    Just know that everyone is there to help you and your baby and this group is there to answer any questions or provide any emotional support.

Types of oesophageal atresia

There are different types of OA.  

These are the most common types.


Here is a list of recent medical articles that might help you. Both from international and local doctors.

For more info or medical questions you can contact us or send an email to: medical@oatsa.co.za. Please note we can only give you general information about the disease, for any questions specific to you or a family member, please contact your paediatrician or surgeon

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