Posts Tagged ‘gastroschisis’

Get ready – tomorrow is World Birth Defects Day

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

baby with cleft lipEvery parent wants a healthy baby. But, the reality is that many babies are born with birth defects.

Some birth defects are clearly seen at birth. Other times it may be weeks, months or even years before the birth defect is discovered. There are thousands of different birth defects. Some are common while others are rare.

Here are a few facts about birth defects

  • Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. That’s 1 in 33 babies.
  • About half of all birth defects have no known cause. The other half are caused by genetic conditions (such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease) or a combination of factors.
  • Some birth defects have decreased in prevalence, such as cleft lip and palate, while others have increased, such as gastroschisis.
  • Birth defects are the leading cause of death in the first year of life. Sadly, babies who survive often face a lifetime of disabilities.
  • Birth defects affect all races and ethnicities.
  • Worldwide, more than 8 million babies are born each year with a serious birth defect.
  • Learn what you can do to prevent certain birth defects.

Here’s what’s new

The PUSH! Global Alliance – People United for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus –is launching tomorrow for World Birth Defects Day. The mission is to provide a collective global platform for all organizations to work towards research, prevention, care, and improved quality of life for people with spina bifida or hydrocephalus. Check them out at

Help us raise awareness

You can observe World Birth Defects Day by participating in social media activities and sharing a story or picture about the impact of birth defects on you and your family.

If you are a health care professional, speak about the steps a woman can take to help lower her risk of having a baby with a birth defect. Lend us your voice! Here’s how:

  • Join the buzzday on Twitter tomorrow, March 3rd – #WorldBDDay
  • Register to be a part of the Thunderclap – a message will be sent out at 9:00 a.m. EST tomorrow to help raise awareness.

The March of Dimes and over 60 other international organizations working for birth defects are joining World Birth Defects Day. We hope you’ll join us, too!


Cases of gastroschisis continue to rise

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

research_birthdefectsresearch_rdax_50New research shows that the number of cases of gastroschisis, a birth defect of the abdominal wall, has more than doubled over the past 18 years.

Gastroschisis is a birth defect where the baby’s intestines, and sometimes other organs, are outside of the baby’s abdomen. After birth, surgery is required to place the baby’s organs back inside the abdomen. In 2013, a study showed that the number of cases of gastroschisis had nearly doubled between 1995-2005. The highest rates were observed in non-Hispanic white teen mothers. Women younger than age 20 were over seven times more likely to have a baby with gastroschisis compared with women aged 25-29.

Researchers from the CDC wanted to determine if the rate of gastroschisis continued to increase after 2005. Looking at data from 14 states between 2006-2012, they found that the number of babies born with gastroschisis has continued to increase. This growth was not limited to young mothers. There were more cases of gastroschisis across all categories of maternal age and race/ethnicity.

While the highest number of gastroschisis cases still occurs in young (<20 years old) non-Hispanic white mothers, the most recent data shows a significant increase among young black mothers as well.

These increases in gastroschisis are seen in the US and internationally. The underlying cause has not been determined. “When you see something rising as fast as this is in all population groups, and in all ages, it tells you something serious is going on. We need to try and figure out what it is so we can prevent the rise,” says Edward R.B. McCabe, MD, PhD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at the March of Dimes.

Most babies with gastroschisis recover and develop normally. But, some babies go on to have feeding problems in early childhood. Learn more about the different types of abdominal defects and surgeries here.

The March of Dimes continues to fund research to better understand how conditions such as gastroschisis develops and how we can prevent them.

Gastroschisis, an abdominal wall defect

Friday, July 12th, 2013

A new study published this week in Obstetrics and Gynecology reports on the rise in the incidence of a birth defect called gastroschisis, an abdominal wall defect. The study was large, reviewing over 4700 cases of gastroschisis occurring in 15 states from 1995-2005. While the condition is still relatively uncommon, the number of cases nearly doubled in the ten year period (from 2.32 to 4.42 per 10,000 live births). The highest rates (11.45 per 10,000) proved to be in non-Hispanic white teen mothers. Women younger than age 20 were over seven times more likely to have a baby with gastroschisis compared with women aged 25-29. Why? We don’t yet know.

In gastroschisis, the baby has an opening in the abdominal wall, usually on the right side near the belly button. During pregnancy, part or all of the baby’s intestines come out through the opening. Sometimes the baby’s stomach and liver also may be outside the body.

The intestines and other organs float in the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby in the uterus. The amniotic fluid can irritate the baby’s intestines, sometimes causing them to swell, twist or get shorter. As a result, some babies have lasting intestinal problems. Babies with gastroschisis usually don’t have any other birth defects.

If a baby has a small abdominal wall defect (only part of the intestine is outside the body), he will probably have surgery within 12 to 24 hours of birth. The surgeon will place the intestine back inside the abdomen and close the opening.

If a baby has a larger defect, however, the surgery may take place in stages. In some cases, the baby’s intestines may be swollen or the abdomen may not have grown enough to hold them. The surgeon may place the intestines in a tall plastic container called a “silo.” The silo is positioned over the opening in the abdomen. Over several days or weeks, the surgeon will gradually tighten the silo. This helps to push the intestines and other organs back inside the abdomen. Once all the organs are inside, the surgeon will remove the silo and close the opening.

While life starts for these little ones with what seems an intense ordeal, most babies with gastroschisis recover and develop normally. Some have feeding problems that last at least through early childhood but most eventually outgrow these problems.

More research is needed into the cause of gastroschisis. The March of Dimes has and is funding a number of grants on research involving abdominal wall defects and we will continue to look into the causes so that hopefully one day these defects can be prevented.

Abdominal wall defects

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Abdominal wall defects are birth defects in which there is an opening in the belly of the fetus.  When this happens, some of the contents of the abdomen protrude through that opening.

Omphalocele is a type of umbilical hernia where some of the internal organs push through the abdominal wall.  They are typically covered by a sac.  In some cases, the omphalocele can be small with only part of the intestine protruding.  In other case, most of the abdominal organs, including the liver, intestine, and spleen, are on the outside.

Omphalocele is rare.  If it occurs by itself then the chance of it happening in a future pregnancy is 1%.  If the omphalocele is associated with other issues, then the recurrence risk depends on the underlying problem.

Omphalocele is usually diagnosed by ultrasound.  Treatment depends on the size of the opening and the organs involved.  A small omphalocele may be corrected with one surgery shortly after birth, while a larger omphalocele requires closure in stages and therefore multiple surgeries.  Because the baby’s belly may be smaller than normal, the baby may suffer from breathing problems as the organs are put back in place.  The future outlook for these babies depends on how large the omphalocele was and what internal organs were involved, if blood flow was restricted to part of the intestine or other organs, and whether or not the baby had other problems.

Gastroschisis is another type of abdominal wall defect, but it differs from omphalocele.  Typically during fetal development, as the baby grows, the abdominal organs are pulled inside and the muscles and skin close around them.  In babies with gastroschisis, this process does not occur as it should.  The result is an opening in the belly, typically to the right of the umbilical cord and less than 2 inches in size, where the intestines, liver, and stomach protrude.  In the case of gastroschisis, there is no sac covering the organs, so throughout gestation they are exposed to amniotic fluid.  This exposure causes the organs to swell and become irritated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 1,871 babies are born each year in the United States with gastroschisis.  It is usually isolated and not associated with other birth defects.  After a diagnosis of gastroschisis, special delivery arrangements are often made.  Delivery needs to take place in a hospital with a NICU.  Sometimes the birth is scheuled as early as 36 weeks, as long as the baby’s lungs are mature.  This is to try to shorten the amount of time that the intestines are exposed to amniotic fluid, which can cause so much damage.  Surgery usually takes place within 24 hours.  Again, depending on the size, a staged repair may be required.  If that is the case, a silo is placed around the part of the intestines that is still exposed and every day it is tightened to push more back into the abdomen.

The prognosis for babies born with gastroschisis is usually good.  However, if the intestine was damaged by the amniotic fluid, or twisted in some way, more complications may result and the baby may require prolonged intravenous nutrition and an extended stay in the NICU.

Updated 2/10/2016