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Gastroschisis Q&A

For prenatal gastroschisis, Dr. Mehra and his team provide exceptional care for you and your baby throughout pregnancy and delivery.  Keeping mother and baby safe is his ultimate priority, while monitoring carefully and quickly recognizing the window for intervention.   Care starts with high-risk pregnancy experts who guide you and your baby throughout pregnancy and delivery. Pediatric surgeons at Advocate Children’s Hospital then ensure your baby has a healthy start to life. 

What is gastroschisis?

Gastroschisis is a condition in which a baby’s abdominal organs develop outside the baby’s body. This condition is congenital, or present in some newborns.  Without special care during delivery and repair soon after birth, it can threaten a baby’s life.

In the womb, certain organs develop normally outside a baby’s body by pushing through an opening in the abdominal wall. These organs can include the intestines, bladder, liver, stomach, and ovaries or testes. They should eventually go back into the body as the hole closes. With gastroschisis, some organs don’t return to the abdominal cavity, and the gap remains open.


What causes gastroschisis?

The exact causes of gastroschisis aren’t completely understood. Research suggests that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may play a role.

What are the symptoms and signs of gastroschisis?

Women are at higher risk of preterm delivery when their baby has gastroschisis. The main sign of the condition is an organ (or organs) seen outside, rather than inside, your baby’s body on ultrasound.

How is gastroschisis diagnosed?

Doctors can see a baby’s protruding organs before birth, as early as 12 weeks, using 3D ultrasound. When a baby has exposed bowels, as with gastroschisis, testing the mother’s blood can show higher levels of a specific protein called alpha-fetoprotein.

In some cases, a referral may also be made to our genetics program for a consultation and evaluation. 

How is gastroschisis treated?

If gastroschisis is detected through a prenatal ultrasound,  consistent monitoring is used to ensure that mother and baby are otherwise healthy.   As baby's debut comes closer, you and Dr. Mehra can make evidence guided decisions in regards to a safe and smooth delivery for mother and baby. 

Through your course of care, your baby’s treatment plan will be developed and refined to ensure the best outcomes possible.  These plans may include surgery after birth to return the intestines (or other organs) to baby's belly.  Some corrective procedures are less invasive than others; everything depends on your baby and his/her needs.  Rest assured, Dr. Mehra will be prepared for any evantuality.  

Follow-up care for gastroschisis

With gastroschisis, the intestines touch the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby in the womb. This exposure may damage the intestines, and it can take several weeks for the affected tissues to recover. Your baby may need to continue with IV nutrition before slowly transitioning to breast milk or formula.

To learn more about diagnosis and managemnt of gastroschisis, contact Dr. Mehra's office today.