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  • What is gastroschisis?
    • Gastroschisis (Pronounced gas-troh-skee-sis) is a birth defect in which a portion of an infant's intestines protrude out of the body through a small hole in the body wall beside the umbilical cord. The body wall defect can be small or large and other organs such as the liver can be involved.

      CDC estimates that each year about 1,500 babies, or 1 out of every 2,500 babies, in the United States are born with gastroschisis.

  • What problems do children with gastroschisis have?
    • Infants and children with gastroschisis usually are expected to have some problems that are primarily a result of the organs being on the outside of the body. Direct contact with the amniotic fluid can irritate the exposed intestines and cause problems with movement of digested food through the stomach and intestines and absorption of nutrients. Additionally, since the intestines are not in their normal location, they can make it difficult for the lungs to expand into their normal location. This is due to the intestine’s being uncovered and irritated by the amniotic fluid. In addition, the misplaced organs can make it difficult for the baby’s lungs to expand, which can cause breathing problems. Sometimes death of the bowel is a complication.

  • What causes gastroschisis?
    • Gastroschisis occurs during pregnancy when the muscles of the wall of the baby’s abdomen, or stomach, do not form correctly. Some scientists think that genetics or an environmental exposure during pregnancy can cause gastroschisis, but the exact cause is still unknown.

      CDC is working with researchers to study risk factors that can increase the chance of having a baby with gastroschisis. Some of the risk factors they found are age (teenage mothers are more likely to have a baby with gastroschisis than older mothers), and race (White teenagers have higher rates than Black or African-American teenagers).

  • Can gastroschisis be prevented?
    • Currently, there is no known way to prevent gastroschisis, but mothers can take steps before and during pregnancy to have a healthy pregnancy. These steps include taking a daily multivitamin with folic acid (400 micrograms), not smoking, and not drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

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Last Revised: January 28, 2014


Data Query

Gastroschisis Data Query

Access the gastroschisis data in the WI EPHT online database. Review the Data Details below to learn about interpreting the data.

The WI EPHT online data has data about other birth defects:

Data Details

What is the data source?

The website provides data from the Wisconsin Birth Defects Registry, which is maintained by the Birth Defect Prevention and Surveillance program, Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

How does WI EPHT measure birth defects?

The WI EPHT website includes the following measures:

  • Prevalence rate of live births by geography
  • Number of birth defects by geography

What are some considerations for interpreting the data?

While significant effort is made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data, there are limitations that are listed below:

  • The Wisconsin Birth Defects Registry does not currently receive reports from all providers in the state. Thus, the numbers presented here represent only a subset of the actual cases.
  • Reporters have up to two years to provide data to the registry, so some cases from the most recent years may not yet be included in the registry.

There are many factors that can contribute to a disease and should be considered when interpreting the data. Some of these include:

  • Demographics, e.g., race, gender, age
  • Socioeconomic Status, e.g., income level, education
  • Geographic, e.g., urban vs. rural
  • Changes in the medical field, e.g., diagnosis patterns, reporting requirements