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Gastroschisis Birth Defect: Everything You Need to Know

Published on February 8, 2016

Finding out you’re going to be a parent is often a very exciting and simultaneously frightening thing. You hope for a safe pregnancy and delivery – for both the mother and child’s sake, you worry with “what ifs” and do everything you can to avoid them. The truth is – sometimes what’s within your power is not enough, and we rely on doctors to fill in the gaps. This is the case with a birth defect on the rise in the U.S. called Gastroschisis (gas-troh-skee-sis).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines gastroschisis as “a birth defect of the abdominal wall. The baby’s intestines stick outside of the baby’s body, through a hole beside the belly button. The hole can be small or large and sometimes other organs, such as the stomach and liver, can also stick outside of the baby’s body.” It is different from birth injury since the health condition occurs in the womb, versus during the birthing process. If you’re cringing reading this, we don’t blame you; but it’s important to keep reading. Here’s why: the CDC recently reported that gastroschisis cases have more than doubled in the U.S. – rising 129 percent between 1995 and 2012 – affecting about 2,000 babies every year.

Although this birth defect is still relatively rare, this is cause for concern not only because the number of cases is rising, but also because professionals are still unclear as to why it’s happening. And as you can imagine, treatment following this discovery isn’t always easy. Soon after a baby is born with gastroschisis, surgery will be needed to place the abdominal organs inside the baby’s body.

If the defect is small with only some of the intestine outside of the belly, it is usually treated right away with a typical hospital stay of one month or less. If the defect is large, repair may be done slowly in stages, lasting up to six months with multiple surgeries. The problem with the latter scenario is that this can leave the baby with developmental problems caused by an inability to absorb nutrients. In some cases, the damage is too great for the baby to survive.

For some parents, gastroschisis is not detected until the baby is born, while others detect the defect early with prenatal tests that check for birth defects and other conditions. The CDC reports that gastroschisis may result in an abnormal result on a blood or screening test, and may even be seen during an ultrasound.

Although doctors are unsure what causes gastroschisis, researchers have found some factors that affect the risk, including:

  • Younger age: teenage mothers were more likely to have a baby with gastroschisis, particularly White teenagers had a higher rate of risk than Black or African-American teenagers
  • Alcohol and tobacco: women who consumed alcohol or used tobacco products were more likely to have a baby with gastroschisis

Cause of Gastroschisis still remains a mystery, but there are things women can do to reduce the risk of birth defects for your baby, including PACT, created by the CDC.

If you believe your child has been injured due to an avoidable medical error before, during or after the birth resulting in additional medical procedures or possibly a lifetime of limitations, give an expert Phoenix medical malpractice attorney a call. Not all injuries are the result of medical malpractice, but we offer a complimentary case analysis and consultation so we can sit down together, hear your story and determine whether you have a case. Legal time limits do apply, so protect your child’s interests and call today, 480-991-7677.

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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.