Gastroschisis is a rare birth defect that occurs in about 1 in 5,000 live births. It is an opening in the abdominal wall, usually less than two inches in diameter and seen most commonly to the right of the umbilical cord, which allows the intestines and other abdominal contents to come outside of the infant’s body. The protruding bowel is often thickened and swollen as a result of the amniotic fluid to which it is exposed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year 1,871 infants with gastroschisis are born in the United States.

Gastroschisis frequently can be detected on a prenatal ultrasound study. The ultrasound will show dilated loops of intestines floating free in the amniotic fluid. When identified prior to delivery, the pregnant woman should be referred to a high-risk obstetric unit with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and pediatric surgical expertise such as the UAB Department of OB/GYN Maternal Fetal Medicine and Children’s of Alabama.

Each year approximately 30 newborns diagnosed with gastroschisis are cared for at Children’s of Alabama. We provide inpatient services at the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children, which features family-friendly private NICU rooms and easy access to the UAB Womens and Infants Center. At Children’s, surgery can be performed to place the intestines back inside the baby’s body and repair the defect. Children’s also has expertise in providing supplemental nutrition as needed while hospitalized and also on an out-patient basis.

The Georgeson Center for Advanced Intestinal Rehabilitation (GCAIR) at Children's of Alabama is devoted to the care of infants and children with complicated pediatric intestinal failure. It is staffed by a multi-disciplinary team that provides pediatric surgery, pediatric gastroenterology, advanced practice nursing, clinical nutrition, occupational therapy, pharmacy services, research and social services. The GCAIR team works together diligently with the patient and family for one common goal: Better outcomes for our patients.

Facts about Gastroschisis:

  • Birth defect of the abdominal wall
  • Intestines outside of the baby’s body
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year 1,871 infants with gastroschisis are born in the United States

Risk Factors:

  • Teenage mothers
  • Alcohol/tobacco use during pregnancy
  • Infections during early pregnancy


  • Surgery to place abdominal organs inside the baby’s body and repair the defect
  • Supplemental nutrition as needed

Meet Gastroschisis patient Gracelyn Delong