Gastroschisis is a birth defect in which the abdominal wall does not form properly, causing the intestines to protrude from a hole next to the navel. Sometimes other organs, such as the stomach or liver, are also outside of the body.
Because the organs are unprotected from amniotic fluid, they can become irritated and swollen. Blood flow to the organs may be blocked, or the intestine may become twisted.
Gastroschisis happens early in pregnancy. It usually is diagnosed before birth with routine blood tests, which may show high levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), or ultrasound.
Fetal surgery is possible in some cases. Otherwise, surgery is performed shortly after birth to replace the organs and repair the opening. If the defect is large, more than one surgery may be needed. Other treatments, such as antibiotics or IV nutrients, may be necessary. Sometimes, babies continue to have problems with feeding and digestion.