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What causes an omphalocele?
We don't really know. Steps that normally happen in the development of the abdominal organs and muscles simply did not happen properly. It is not known to be caused by anything the mother did during pregnancy.
So how does it happen?
As a fetus is growing in the mother's uterus before birth, different organ systems are developing and maturing. Between the sixth and the tenth weeks of pregnancy, the intestines actually project into the umbilical cord as they are growing. By the eleventh week of development, the intestines should return to the abdomen.
An omphalocele occurs when the abdominal organs do not return to the abdominal cavity as they should.
Who is at risk for developing an omphalocele?
Many babies born with an omphalocele also have other abnormalities.
When an omphalocele is isolated (no other birth defects are present), the risk for it to happen in a future pregnancy is one percent or one in 100. There are some families that have been reported to have an omphalocele inherited as an autosomal dominant or X-linked recessive trait. In these cases, the chance for reoccurrence would be higher.
How often does an omphalocele occur?
Why is an omphalocele a concern?
Since some or all of the abdominal organs are outside the body, infection is a concern, especially if the protective membrane around t gans breaks. Also, an organ may lose its blood supply if it becomes pinched or twisted. A loss of blood flow can damage the affected organ.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”