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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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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 05/2018 -
  • Update Date: 07/02/2018 -