Gastroschisis is a birth defect in which the baby’s intestines extend outside of the abdomen through a hole next to the belly button. The size of the hole is variable, and other organs including the stomach and liver may also occur outside the baby’s body. Complications may include feeding problems, prematurity, intestinal atresia, and intrauterine growth restriction.
The cause is typically unknown. Rates are higher in babies born to mothers who smoke, drink alcohol, or are younger than 20 years old. Ultrasounds during pregnancy may make the diagnosis. Otherwise diagnosis occurs at birth. It differs from omphalocele in that there is no covering membrane over the intestines.
Treatment involves surgery. This typically occurs shortly after birth. In those with large defects the exposed organs may be covered with a special material and slowly moved back into the abdomen. The condition affects about 4 per 10,000 newborns. Rates of the condition appear to be increasing.
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