Omphalocele – A child birth defect

Pregnancy is all about giving birth to a healthy baby. Whatever you do is either directly or indirectly related to baby’s health which is monitored by several lab tests and sonographies. The main concern for all these nine months is to keep and deliver a healthy baby but sometimes the luck is not on our side and despite of being healthy and fit we came to know that the baby is suffering from a birth defect.

Some of the most common birth defects are:

  • Zika Virus
  • Spina Bifida (neural tube defect)
  • Down Syndrome
  • Congenital Heart Defects
  • cleft lip or palate
  • inherited metabolic disorders
  • gastrointestinal and kidney malformations

Approx 3% of all the babies born in the US suffer from major birth defects. The reasons behind these defects vary from condition to condition. Sometimes these are genetic or chromosomal. One major reason can be the environment during the time of conception.

What is Omphalocele?

Omphalocele which is also known as exomphalos , is an abdominal wall birth defect in which the abdominal wall is not built properly and the infant’s intestines, liver and sometimes other organs are outside of the abdomen. The organs grow normally but outside the infant’s body however ,connected to the abdomen. This defect can be treated by one or many surgeries after the birth.

31st January is celebrated as the Omphalocele Awareness Day  Internationally.

Causes and Risk Factors of Omphalocele?

The causes for Omphalocele are still not known. It can be either genetic or chromosomal.  Most of the mother’s aging above 35 are exposed to this birth defect. Some of the major risk factors for Omphalocele are :

  • Alcohol and Tobacco
  • Certain medications
  • the Obesity

Diagnosis of Omphalocele?

There are no prior symptoms of this defect. The mother will not feel any sort of pain or discomfort. It is mostly diagnosed by ultrasound during the 10th to 12th week of pregnancy. Rare cases have occurred in which the defect is completely gone by the 16th or even 21st week.

A few test are drawn to figure out the survival rate of the infant as sometimes the infant suffering from Omphalocele might also suffer from chromosomal disabilities.

Treatment of Omphalocele?

The treatment for this defect is started immediately after birth depending on a few conditions like :

  • The size of Omphalocele
  • Presence of any other disability
  • Gestational age of the baby

If the size of the Omphalocele is small i.e only a small amount of intestine is outside the abdominal wall it can be immediately operated after birth. However, the baby is kept under observation for around 60 to 90 days. If the size is large i.e all the intestine, the liver and gall bladder is outside than it takes two or more surgeries to complete the treatment depending on the health of the infant. If the Omphalocele is giant which is all the bowel, liver ,gall bladder and lungs is outside the abdominal wall than the treatment takes multiple operations along with full time nursing and care. The key factor involved in the surgeries is the health of the baby and the heart. If the infant has a strong heartbeat and is functioning properly then even after a few years of health issues the baby will spend the rest of the life normally.

Support Groups

Following are a few links to the facebook groups with thousand of positive examples and support . Real life examples of strong mothers and pretty little angels who fought their battles with courage and won like a rockstar.

MOO — Mothers Of Omphaloceles

Babies born with Omphalocele


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Medline Plus

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

UCSF Fetal Treatment Center

Guest Blogger by Sadia Inam

Sadia Inam – Application Developer/ Programmer/ Content Writer

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