What You Should Know About Gastroschisis

If you are a parent-to-be and are expecting a baby or recently had a baby, one of the concerns you may have for your child is the possibility that they could have a congenital issue or a birth defect. One such issue is known in medical terms as gastroschisis. Get to know some of the major facts about this birth defect and what can be done about it if your baby is born with it. Then, you can feel more assured and relaxed about your child's birth and the care they may receive after they are born. 

What Is Gastroschisis?

In laymen's terms, gastroschisis is a birth defect in which a portion of the intestines (and sometimes the stomach and liver) extend outside of the body. This happens because of a small hole near the belly button. 

Gastroschisis is a condition that is often not detected until birth. Unfortunately, there may not be any clear signs of the conditions in ultrasounds. However, in some cases an ultrasound does diagnose the condition in the womb, allowing the medical team to prepare to handle the issue when the baby is born. 

What Causes Gastroschisis?

There is no known direct cause of gastroschisis. A combination of factors may be at play including genetic and environmental factors. Some researchers have found that the use of alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy can increase the risk of a baby being born with gastroschisis. 

What Is the Prognosis for a Baby with Gastroschisis?

Luckily, with proper treatment and care, the prognosis of babies born with gastroschisis is very good at around 90 percent. This means that your baby, even if they have this condition, is more than likely to survive. 

How Is Gastroschisis Treated?

Gastroschisis is treated primarily by a pediatric surgeon. The pediatric surgeon, who is trained in surgery on infants and newborns, will carefully make an incision and place the intestines and/or other organs back where they belong inside the abdominal wall. They will then close the incision (and the hole in the abdomen) to keep everything in place. 

Multiple surgeries are often necessary to fully replace the organs inside the body. As such, sterile drapings are placed over the exposed organs in the meantime to protect them from the air (i.e. from damage, germs, and the like). 

The child's bowels will take a while to return to normal once moved back into place. Because of this, your baby will have to be in neonatal care and fed through an IV until they are ready to feed normally again. 

Knowing these facts about gastroschisis, you can be sure that you are prepared if your baby is diagnosed with this condition. Contact a pediatric surgeon for more information.