Gastroschisis Symptoms & Causes

What is gastroschisis?

Gastroschisis is an opening in the abdominal wall — the muscles and skin of the abdomen — that appears during fetal development. In gastroschisis, a baby's stomach and small and large intestines are not enclosed in the abdominal wall and appear outside of a baby's body.

As the fetus grows, the opening may become smaller and may tighten around the intestine, or the bowel could twist around itself. This can lead to poor function of the bowel after delivery as well as long-term feeding problems.

What causes gastroschisis?

The cause of gastroschisis is unknown.

Normally, during early development, the intestines, stomach and liver protrude to the outside of the body. As the fetus grows, these organs are "pulled in" and the abdominal wall forms around them. This does not occur in gastroschisis.