Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions

Gastroschisis Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Gastroschisis

If your baby has gastroschisis, you will not notice any signs or symptoms related to the condition in yourself while you are pregnant. Mothers whose babies have gastroschisis, however, may have excess fluid around the baby in the womb, a condition called polyhydramnios. Most often, doctors notice gastroschisis on an ultrasound image taken of the baby before birth.

After birth, your baby may have symptoms related to gastroschisis, especially if any organs were pinched, twisted or damaged when they passed through the hole. Your baby's doctor will look for these problems when your baby is born. About 1 in 10 babies with gastroschisis has intestinal atresia , which means part of their intestine has not formed completely.

Once your baby is born and the gastroschisis is fixed, the main symptom of the condition is problems with feeding your baby. Often this happens because babies with gastroschisis have shorter intestines than usual. As a result, they may have some trouble absorbing nutrients at first. In time, though, more than 95% of babies that had gastroschisis are able to eat and gain weight normally.

Gastroschisis Diagnosis

In most cases, doctors see gastroschisis during a routine ultrasound before the baby is born. Routine blood tests for pregnant women may also show a high level of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a sign of gastroschisis.

If your doctor diagnoses gastroschisis before your baby is born, you can work together to plan for the treatment your baby will need after birth. Your doctor may talk with you about having genetic tests, such as amniocentesis, before your baby is born. This helps check for other problems with development. Most babies with gastroschisis have no other development problems.

Once your baby is born, the doctor will see the gastroschisis during a physical exam. Your baby may need tests to tell whether they have any other health problems.