Related conditions of choanal atresia include a number of complications associated with respiratory problems. Bilateral choanal atresia, blocking both sides of the nasal airway, may result in cyanosis, a lack of oxygen indicated by a bluish color of the lips and fingers. When babies try to nurse and breathe through the mouth, they may aspirate fluid into the lungs, which can be a serious complication. Because babies are obligate nose breathers – meaning they must breathe through their nose – severe cases may result in respiratory arrest.
Over half of infants with choanal atresia also have other birth defects. Some cases are related to CHARGE syndrome, a disorder that causes a number of abnormalities such as heart defects, retarded growth and problems with vision and hearing. Patients with CHARGE often have damage to cranial nerves resulting in problems swallowing, facial paralysis and diminished sense of smell.