Genetics Northern California

Abdominal Wall Defects

Babies with abdominal wall defects have abnormal openings along the abdomen (belly) so that intestines and other organs grow outside the baby's body.

Gastroschisis: An opening right next to the umbilical cord which allows the intestines to grow outside of the baby. In most cases this happens as an isolated birth defect and does not run in families. This type of abdominal wall defect occurs in about 1 out of 10,000 births.

Omphalocele: The intestines protrude (stick out of the body) directly behind the umbilical cord. Usually the intestines are covered with a membrane. Omphaloceles are sometimes caused by a chromosome abnormality or genetic syndrome in the baby. Other birth defects may be present as well.  This type of abdominal wall defect occurs in about 1 out of 4,000 births.

Surgery after birth can often repair an abdominal wall defect. The long-term outlook for a baby with an abdominal wall defect depends on several factors, such as the size of the defect, the presence of other birth defects, and the success of surgery after birth.