Background: Gastroschisis is an uncommon condition in which viscera protrude at the base of the umbilical cord. To investigate the possible relationships between antenatal ultrasound findings, patient demographics, smoking, alcohol consumption and this condition, 21 causes are reviewed.
Methods: The medical records and antenatal ultrasounds of 21 children diagnosed with gastroschisis at the Adelaide Children's Hospital between 1 January 1985 and 31 December 1992 were reviewed.
Results: Antenatal ultrasound was employed in 15 cases, and the diagnosis was accurately made in 13 (86.7%) of these. There were 17 live births, two elective terminations and two pre-term abortions. Seven of the 21 cases had associated anomalies. The anomalies included five atresias, a ventricular septal defect (VSD), and a dislocated gall-bladder. Postoperative complications (which included one death) occurred in seven of the 17 patients. Bowel dilatation or thickening was first detected on five ultrasound examinations performed before 21 weeks' gestation, and four ultrasounds after 21 weeks. The nine cases with bowel changes on ultrasound were associated with a high atresia rate and a longer hospital stay, but not with an increased complication rate. Maternal race, parity, and alcohol consumption were not associated with increased risk of fetal gastroschisis. All mothers were under 27 years of age. There were nine mothers who smoked during pregnancy and a disproportionate number of mothers who lived outside the metropolitan area with gastroschisis-affected offspring.
Conclusions: Bowel changes seen on antenatal ultrasound increase the chances of intestinal atresia and longer hospitalization. Smoking during pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk of gastroschisis.