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Gastroschisis is a birth defect that causes a hole in a baby’s abdominal wall. When this occurs, the baby’s intestines protrude from the body on one side of the umbilical cord.

While gastroschisis is serious, most babies born with it can recover with expert medical care.

Gastroschisis: what you should know

  • Prenatal ultrasounds can detect gastroschisis. It is also immediately obvious at birth.
  • Gastroschisis does not allow a baby’s bowels and digestive system to work properly. Complications from gastroschisis can include the following:
    • Intestinal injury
    • Bowel obstruction (a blockage that prevents the contents of the intestine from passing through the colon)
    • Short bowel syndrome (when nutrients are not properly absorbed)
  • Most babies recover through prompt medical attention and surgery shortly after birth.
  • It will take time for your baby’s bowel to begin to function normally and for your baby to tolerate full feedings.
  • After gastroschisis surgery, babies can still have problems with feeding, digestion and absorption of nutrients. Your baby will need close follow-up care.
  • You have an increased risk of having a baby with gastroschisis if you:
    • Are a teen mother
    • Smoke or drink alcohol during your pregnancy

How can I get my child help for gastroschisis?

If a prenatal ultrasound reveals that your baby has gastroschisis, maternal-fetal specialists at Rush can help you and your partner establish plans for prenatal, delivery and postnatal care that will give your baby the best chance of recovery. 

Care for gastroschisis at Rush

For expectant mothers

If a prenatal ultrasound reveals that your baby has gastroschisis, additional care can help ensure that you and your baby stay as healthy as possible throughout the rest of your pregnancy.

  • Monitoring: You will need additional prenatal tests and monitoring to determine how your baby is doing throughout your pregnancy.
  • Planning: High-risk ob/gyns and maternal-fetal specialists at Rush will help you prepare for a safe labor and delivery. They can also create a plan for immediate medical care for your baby after delivery.

For your baby

Your baby will need neonatal intensive care at birth and one or more of the following treatments:

  • Surgery: Places the intestines inside your baby’s body and repairs the defect.
  • Central venous catheter or PICC line: A special IV that allows doctors to give your baby the nutrients to grow and recover after surgery. This is used because your baby cannot feed normally yet, and it takes time for your baby’s bowel to work properly to digest food.
  • Antibiotics: Help prevent infections.
  • Close monitoring: Makes sure your baby’s temperature — which can fluctuate with gastroschisis — remains stable.

Why choose Rush for gastroschisis care at Rush

  • High-risk ob/gyns at Rush specialize in caring for women facing complex pregnancies and deliveries.
  • The Rush Fetal and Neonatal Medicine Center offers prenatal testing and diagnosis for gastroschisis. The center’s specialized team will provide you with expert support, evaluation and treatment.
  • Most newborns with gastroschisis require immediate medical attention. The Renée Schine Crown Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Rush is located next to labor and delivery, allowing neonatal intensive care specialists to care for your child seconds after delivery.
  • For more than 20 years, the pediatric surgeons at Rush University Children's Hospital have provided expert surgical care to newborns with birth defects, such as gastroschisis.
  • Babies with gastroschisis often need support to get the nutrients they need. Dietitians in the NICU at Rush are specially trained in neonatal nutrition. They help determine the best ways to meet your baby’s nutritional needs. 

Departments and programs that treat this condition