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Gastroschisis is a birth defect. Your baby's intestines, and sometimes other organs, are pushed through an opening near his belly button. The opening may be small or large. His intestines will float freely in amniotic fluid during pregnancy. This may cause the intestines to become irritated, swollen, or damaged. Your baby will be born with his intestines and any other involved organs outside of his body. Gastroschisis is a life-threatening emergency that needs surgery as soon as possible after your baby is born.


Call 911 if:

  • Your baby is not breathing, has breathing problems, or is wheezing.
  • Your baby's skin or nails are blue.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your baby has a fever.
  • Your baby has constipation, blood in his bowel movement, or loses weight.
  • Your baby has apnea (periods of not breathing).
  • Your baby has green or yellow vomit.

Contact your baby's healthcare provider if:

  • Your baby has fewer bowel movements than usual or has feeding problems.
  • Your baby has a swollen abdomen or is vomiting.
  • Your baby is crying more than usual, fussy, or difficult to comfort.
  • You have questions or concerns about your baby's condition or care.


  • Medicine may be given to prevent or fight a bacterial infection.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your baby's healthcare provider as directed:

Your baby will need ongoing tests to check his growth and development. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care for your baby:

Healthcare providers will show you how to handle, dress, and bathe your baby. They will show you how to change your baby's diapers. Your baby may need to use a nasogastric (NG) or gastric tube at home for feedings. Healthcare providers will teach you how to give feedings through the feeding tube. You will learn signs of problems to watch for, such as breathing problems, diarrhea, or constipation.

Risks of gastroschisis:

  • Your baby's intestines may become infected or develop necrosis (tissue death). He may have a shorter bowel than normal. This may prevent his body from absorbing nutrients correctly. He may need to have surgery on his bowel. As he grows, he may have trouble feeding or breathing. He may not grow as quickly as expected. He may also develop a bowel obstruction (block) or get sick more easily than other children.
  • Even after the gastroschisis is repaired, your baby may have problems feeding. His body may not absorb nutrition correctly. Liquid from his stomach may get pushed into his lower esophagus and cause damage. He may have constipation or abdominal pain often. He may develop a food allergy or intolerance.

Prevent gastroschisis in a future pregnancy:

Take prenatal vitamins as directed. Make sure the vitamins contain 400 micrograms of folic acid. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects such as gastroschisis. Do not smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or use cocaine while you are pregnant. Do not take any medicines unless your healthcare provider says it is okay. Ask your healthcare provider for other ways to prevent gastroschisis.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Gastroschisis (Discharge Care)

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