Introduction: Two of the most common malformations of the anterior abdominal wall include gastroschisis and omphalocele, both of which are associated with high morbidity and mortality. Studies have shown an increase in both conditions worldwide. These two conditions are considered separate entities because of their differences in epidemiology, physical characteristics and associations with other structural anomalies and chromosomal aberrations. This is the first local study to examine these two conditions.
Methods: Data of anterior abdominal wall defect cases of patients born during the period 1993-2002 were retrieved from the National Birth Defects Registry and analysed.
Results: There were a total of 121 cases of anterior abdominal wall defects in the ten-year period from 1993 to 2002, giving an overall incidence of 2.63 per 10,000 livebirths. The individual incidences of gastroschisis (n = 21) and omphalocele (n = 100) were 0.46 and 2.17 per 10,000 livebirths, respectively. 33 percent of women with foetal gastroschisis were younger than 25 years of age, and 31 percent of women with foetal omphalocele were older than 35 years of age. This was statistically significant when compared to the general obstetric population. Incidence of omphalocele was lowest among the Indian population. Total aneuploidy rate was 14.9 percent (18/121 cases), with omphalocele having a higher aneuploidy rate than gastroschisis (17 percent versus 4.8 percent). Omphaloceles are also more likely to be associated with cardiac defects (p-value equals 0.02).
Conclusion: Our studies are consistent with the worldwide trend of an increasing prevalence of anterior abdominal wall defects. The race-specific differences suggest genetic and environmental factors that warrant further studies.