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An omphalocele is a birth defect that causes your baby's intestines or other organs to form outside his or her body. The organs stay in a clear sac called the peritoneum after he or she is born. The umbilical cord is attached to the top of the sac. An omphalocele forms when the baby's abdominal wall does not close completely during pregnancy. Your baby's omphalocele may be mild or severe. Mild means only some intestines are involved. Severe means some organs in his or her chest may be involved in addition to abdominal organs. Your baby may also have heart problems or other birth defects.


Seek care immediately if:

  • Your baby has a fever.
  • 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.


  • Antibiotic cream or ointment may be given to prevent or fight a bacterial infection. Your baby's healthcare provider will show you how to apply the medicine to the skin covering the omphalocele. He or she will tell you how often to apply it.
  • 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.

Manage your baby's omphalocele:

You may be able to care for your baby at home while you are waiting for the omphalocele to be treated. Healthcare providers will show you how to handle, dress, and bathe your baby. They will show you how to change your baby's diapers. They will also show you how to change bandages and apply medicines to the skin covering the omphalocele.

Prevent an omphalocele 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 omphalocele. Do not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol while you are pregnant. Ask your healthcare provider for other ways to prevent an omphalocele.

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

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

Learn more about Omphalocele (Discharge Care)

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