What Is Gastroschisis? 

Gastroschisis is a birth defect that develops in a baby while a woman is pregnant. This condition occurs when an opening forms in the baby’s abdominal wall. The baby’s bowel pushes through this hole. It then develops outside of the baby’s body in the amniotic fluid.

The opening is most often on the right side of the baby’s belly button. It can be large or small, but is typically 1-2 inches in size. In more severe cases, the stomach and/or liver can sometimes make their way through the opening as well.

Because the bowel is outside of the baby’s body, it is unprotected. That means there is a chance it can become irritated, swollen and damaged.

This condition is relatively rare, but has seen an increase in recent years. It occurs in about one in every 2,000 babies. It develops early in pregnancy, during the fourth through eighth weeks. Gastroschisis occurs due to a weakness in the baby’s abdominal wall muscles near the umbilical cord. If your baby develops this condition during your pregnancy, you will not experience any symptoms related to it.

Gastroschisis can be repaired with surgery after your baby is born. It is usually not associated with other malformations.

What Causes Gastroschisis? 

The exact cause of gastroschisis is not known. It does not appear to be inherited. Having one baby with gastroschisis does not make it more likely that you would have another baby with the condition.