Omphalocele-Child

Omphalocele is a birth defect that creates a gap in the muscles and skin where the bellybutton should be. Abdominal tissue and organs, like the intestines, push through the gap to the outside of the body. The misplaced abdominal tissue and organs are enclosed in a sac. The omphalocele may be small with just a section of intestines or can be large and involve several abdominal organs. It is often associated with other birth defects.

  • Causes

    Omphalocele develops before birth. During normal development, the baby’s intestines normally push out into the umbilical cord for a short time. In most babies, the intestines will move back into the abdomen as the baby grows. An omphalocele develops when the intestines do not move back into abdomen. The intestines keep the abdomen from closing properly.

  • Definition

    Omphalocele is a birth defect that creates a gap in the muscles and skin where the bellybutton should be. Abdominal tissue and organs, like the intestines, push through the gap to the outside of the body. The misplaced abdominal tissue and organs are enclosed in a sac.

    The omphalocele may be small with just a section of intestines or can be large and involve several abdominal organs. It is often associated with other birth defects.

    Normal Anatomy of the Abdominal Organs
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  • Diagnosis

    Omphalocele may be suspected after a standard prenatal screening test. A fetal ultrasound will allow the doctor to see an omphalocele before birth. After birth, an omphalocele can be diagnosed by its appearance.

    Additional imaging tests may be done to help plan treatment.

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of your baby having omphalocele:

    • Quit smoking before and during pregnancy.
    • Avoid alcohol during pregnancy.

    If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about replacing or stopping SSRIs or asthma medication.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase the risk of this birth defect include:

    • Maternal smoking
    • Alcohol use by mother during pregnancy
    • Maternal use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) before and through first trimester of pregnancy—medication most often used for the treatment of depression or anxiety
    • Maternal use of asthma medication—before and through first trimester of pregnancy
    • Maternal overweight or obesity before pregnancy

  • Symptoms

    An omphalocele has a visible defect around the bellybutton.

  • Treatment

    Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your baby. Treatment may include one or more of the following: