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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What is an omphalocele?

An omphalocele is a congenital condition 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 congenital conditions.

What increases my baby's risk for an omphalocele?

A change in your baby's chromosomes may lead to an omphalocele. Your baby's risk may be higher if his or her mother:

What do I need to know about delivery?

What will happen after my baby is born?

How is an omphalocele treated?

Treatment depends on your baby's development at birth, and any other congenital conditions he or she has. A tissue expander may be placed into your baby's abdomen if it is too small to hold the organs. The size of the expander is increased over time to give the abdomen time to grow. Your baby may need any of the following to repair the omphalocele:

What can I do to manage my 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.

What can I do to prevent an omphalocele in a future pregnancy?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my baby's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your baby. 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.

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Further information

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