Provider News

New TEF/EA Clinic in the Airway and Esophageal Center

September 6, 2023

A new program for children with tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) and esophageal atresia (EA) is now part of the hospital’s Airway and Esophageal Center that opened earlier this year.

TEF and EA services are not new to Seattle Children’s but are now integrated within a multidisciplinary program that offers expanded clinic hours and assistance from a program coordinator who helps families experience the best journey and outcomes possible. The TEF/EA Program provides not just surgery but also comprehensive follow-up care throughout childhood until patients transition to adult care.  It is the only program of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.

What to look for: Symptoms of TEF and EA in babies

  • TEF and EA: Breathing problems and coughing or choking when the baby tries to swallow. The symptoms show up right after birth.
  • TEF only: Severe coughing or choking when the baby tries to swallow, usually after feeding. Some babies may have trouble breathing while feeding. If the patient has TEF alone, it may be weeks or months after birth before TEF is diagnosed as the cause of symptoms.  
  • EA only: The baby is not swallowing their saliva, is drooling a lot or has foamy mucus in their mouth or nose. Most often, EA alone is diagnosed before or right after birth.

See our new Case Study: Tracheoesophageal Fistula (1.5-Year-Old Patient with Difficult Swallowing and Recurrent Respiratory Infections).

What’s special about Seattle Children’s TEF/EA Program?

Better outcomes through customized care plans

Our program’s multidisciplinary team has the medical and surgical expertise to help patients not only survive but thrive — from diagnosis through treatment and long-term follow-up — using customized treatment plans.

Experienced team focused on each child’s needs

We are the only TEF/EA program in the region with expertise in all the areas that babies may need.

Collaborative care, starting before birth

If TEF and EA are discovered during pregnancy, our team partners with experts in our Fetal Care and Treatment Center, NICU, transport team and the family’s local birth hospital to plan for the newborn’s care.

Novel research to advance care

Seattle Children’s leads research in the lab and in the clinic to improve treatment and quality of life for children born with problems like TEF and EA.

Providers with concerns for TEF/EA should send in a referral or call our Provider-to-Provider Line at 206-987-7777. Please direct nonurgent, nonclinical questions to program coordinator Beatriz Cruz at 206-987-5963 or email



‘He’s Able to Be a Kid and Be Free’: DeAngelo Thrives After Complex Surgeries and Care at Seattle Children’s (Seattle Children’s On the Pulse – June 22, 2023)

Brainstem Region Revealed to Play Role in Regulating Swallow, Breathing (Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Integrative Brain Research — June 30, 2023)