What is an abdominal wall defect?
An abdominal wall defect is a gap in the skin and muscles of the belly. The intestines come out through the gap and are exposed to air.
Abdominal wall defects are birth defects that are visible right after birth
Your baby's intestines bulge out through a gap in the belly
The gap is usually in or near the belly button
Sometimes the intestines are covered by a thin membrane
If the intestines are not covered by a membrane, they can be irritated by amniotic fluid before birth
Your baby will need surgery to put the intestines back in the belly and close the gap
Babies with abdominal wall defects often have other birth defects or genetic problems (such as Down syndrome Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21) Chromosomes are structures within each cell that contain your genes. Genes contain the DNA codes that makes us who and what we are. Your body's cells contain 46 chromosomes arranged in 23 pairs... read more ).
How can doctors tell if my baby has an abdominal wall defect?
Doctors usually find an abdominal wall defect during routine ultrasounds done during your pregnancy. If they don’t find the problem during your pregnancy, they will see it as soon as your baby is born.
How do doctors treat abdominal wall defects?
Doctors will treat your baby’s abdominal wall defect as soon as your baby is born. They will:
Use bandages to cover and protect the intestines
Give fluids and antibiotics by vein
Put a plastic tube down the nose to drain stomach juices
Do surgery to put the intestines back into the belly and close the opening
Sometimes doctors must take a few days to slowly stretch the skin of the baby’s stomach before surgery so there’s enough skin to cover the opening. If a large amount of intestine is sticking out, they may move it back into the belly a little at a time over several days or weeks.