Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Gastroschisis—Child

Definition

Gastroschisis is a birth defect that is a gap in the muscles and skin of the abdominal wall. Intestines and other abdominal organs can push through the gap to the outside of the body.

Normal Anatomy of the Abdominal Organs
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Causes ^

The cause is not well understood. It may be caused by exposure to toxins in the mother.

Risk Factors ^

Gastroschisis is more common in babies born to teenage mothers. Other things that may raise the risk in the a pregnant mother are:

  • Smoking
  • Drug use
  • Certain medicines
  • Urinary tract infection or sexually transmitted infectionh (STI)
  • Being around toxins

Symptoms ^

Intestines will be seen outside of the body, often to the right of the belly button.

Diagnosis ^

Gastroschisis may be suspected after blood tests in the mother. A fetal ultrasound will show if there are intestines outside of the abdominal wall. Early diagnosis will help guide birth and treatment plans. If it is not found before birth, then it will be found as soon as the child is born.

Pictures may taken after the baby is born. This can be done with ultrasound.

Treatment ^

Talk with the doctor about the best plan for your baby. Your baby may need:

Medication

The intestines are often harmed. Your baby may have problems with digestion and need care. Medicines are:

  • Dextrose and electrolyte solutions for nutrition and hydration
  • Antibiotics if an infection is present or possible

Surgery

The goal of surgery is to put the intestine and other organs back in place, and close wall. The type of surgery will depend on the extent of the gastroschisis..

Large defects may need many surgeries over a long period of time.

Prevention ^

Gastroschisos can’t be prevented because the cause isn’t clear.

RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

March of Dimes
http://www.marchofdimes.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

March of Dimes Canada
http://www.marchofdimes.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:

Birth defects: diagnosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/diagnosis.html. Updated October 20, 2014. Accessed July 2, 2018.

Facts about gastroschisis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/gastroschisis.html. Updated June 27, 2017. Accessed July 2, 2018.

Gastroschisis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113716/Gastroschisis. Updated December 1, 2016. Accessed July 2, 2018.

Feldkamp ML, Reefhuis J, Kucik J, et al. Case-control study of self-reported genitourinary infections and the risk of gastroschisis: Findings from the national birth defects prevention study 1997-2003. BMJ. 2008;336(7658):1420-1423.

Gamba P, Midrio P. Abdominal wall defects: prenatal diagnosis, newborn management, and long-term outcomes. Semin Pediatr Surg. 2014 Oct;23(5):283-90.
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Skarsgard ED. Management of gastroschisis. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2016 Jun;28(3):363-369.

Last reviewed June 2018 by Kari Kassir, MD  Last Updated: 7/2/2018