An ultrasound is commonly used during pregnancy to examine the unborn child and to make sure he or she is healthy, and this test is commonly ordered when something in a pregnancy appears abnormal. If your ultrasound reveals that some of the baby's internal organs are located outside of his or her body, your doctor might tell you that your baby has a condition known as gastroschisis. If this is the news you hear, you may want to ask your doctor the following three questions.  

What is gastroschisis?

Gastroschisis is a birth defect that causes some of the baby's digestive system parts to develop outside of the body instead of inside the abdominal cavity. This occurs when a baby's abdominal cavity develops a hole in it. This hole allows the internal organs to come outside the body, and it typically affects the intestines only; however, other organs may also form on the outside of the baby's body.

Is this condition treatable?

This condition is relatively rare, as it affects approximately 1,871 babies each year, but it is usually treatable. The type of treatment needed will depend on the severity of the condition, and one of the main factors that will affect this is the size of the baby's abdominal cavity. If the baby's abdominal cavity is the normal size, doctors are typically able to reposition the body parts inside the cavity. If this is possible, the baby is likely to be fine and have few complications from this.

If the baby's abdominal cavity is not large enough, the doctors may need to come up with a different plan to fix the problem, and this will often require multiple surgeries. It may also leave the baby with long-term digestive problems.

What will happen during and after birth?

If your baby is diagnosed with this condition, your doctor is likely to schedule the delivery of the baby. Babies with this condition can typically be born vaginally; however, the doctor is likely to induce the labor at around 35 to 37 weeks. When your delivery is scheduled, there will most likely be a team of doctors there waiting to begin work on the baby.

The baby will need to be examined and treated quickly, because there is a huge risk of infection when internal organs are located outside of the body. On average, a baby born with this condition will need to stay in the hospital for two weeks to four months, depending on the severity of the condition.

If your baby was diagnosed with this condition, talk to a local gynecologist (such as one from Bayview OB GYN Women's Care Florida) to find out what you will need to do to make sure your baby can be born as healthy as possible.