Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions


What is gastroschisis?

Gastroschisis (pronounced gas-troh-SKEE-sis) is a hole in the muscles and skin that cover the belly (abdomen). Normally the abdominal wall completely closes around a baby's organs as they develop. In gastroschisis, a hole remains to one side of the umbilical cord. Usually this hole is on the baby's right side. The baby's intestine, stomach and sometimes other organs poke through this hole, leaving them outside the baby's body at birth.

Gastroschisis is an abdominal wall defect that has some things in common with another birth defect called omphalocele. Gastroschisis tends to be associated with few other problems. Babies with omphalocele can have many other associated problems.

Gastroschisis in Children

Gastroschisis affects 1 to 2 in 10,000 children. It's more common in babies who have younger mothers. Doctors don't know the cause.

Gastroschisis at Seattle Children's

We have taken care of hundreds of children with gastroschisis. We've cared for many more over the course of our 100-year history. We usually see 15 to 20 babies each year with this condition. While most medical institutions report some deaths among babies with gastroschisis, Seattle Children's has had no deaths due to gastroschisis in the past decade.

Our surgeons are experienced at performing the operation these babies need to place their organs inside their bellies and close the hole. In addition, we have a great deal of experience treating problems after surgery, as well as with the feeding issues that many of these children have. We are also exploring possible nonoperative ways to manage gastroschisis.

When you come to Seattle Children's, you have a team of people to care for your child before, during and after surgery. Along with your child's surgeon, you are connected with doctors trained to care for new babies with complex problems (neonatologists), nurses, dietitians, child life specialists, social workers and others. We work together to meet all of your child's health needs and help your family through this experience.

Since 1907, Seattle Children's has been treating children only. Our team members are trained in their fields and also in meeting the unique needs of children. For example, the doctors who give your child anesthesia are board certified in pediatric anesthesiology. This means they have extra years of training in how to take care of kids. Our child life specialists know how to help children understand their illnesses and treatments in ways that make sense for their age. Our expertise in pediatrics truly makes a difference to our patients and families.