About 1 in 3,000 babies is born with gastroschisis (pronounced gas-tro-SKEE-sis), a life-threatening condition where the intestines protrude through a hole in the abdomen. The defect forms during weeks 5-8 of pregnancy, most likely due to disrupted blood supply to the developing abdominal wall.
DETECTION AND TREATMENT
Gastroschisis can be seen on prenatal ultrasounds. Expanded AFP screening, a prenatal blood test, identifies about 85% of abdominal wall defects.
At birth, newborns with gastroschisis die without immediate corrective surgery and intensive hospital care. Other birth defects are uncommon with gastroschisis; 85% of affected babies survive if treated. The average lifetime cost for medical treatment, educational services and lost productivity is $108,000.
YOUNG MOTHERS AT HIGHEST RISK
Being young, using drugs and coming from a socially/economically disadvantaged background all increase gastroschisis risk. These factors explain about 1/3 of the risk for gastroschisis. The California Birth Defects Monitoring Program has conducted many studies to understand why young mothers have greater risk. We also looked at lifestyle and a variety of exposures to uncover risk-altering factors in women of any age.
RECURRENCE RISK LOW
In 127 families we interviewed, only 3.5% of the brothers and sisters of affected infants also had gastroschisis.
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