New Study Outlines Possible Cause

The causes and mechanisms of gastroschisis - a severe birth defect in which infants are born with their intestines and other internal organs outside the abdomen - are not known, but researchers suspect environmental and maternal factors may be related to the birth defect. The age of a woman giving birth also appears to play a strong role: women less than 20 years old are 11 times more likely to have babies with gastroschisis than women older than 25.

The researchers conducted their study as part of a multi-site national investigation using birth defect surveillance systems in Utah and nine other states of the USA. The scientists compared data on mothers of 505 babies with gastroschisis and a control group of 4,924 babies without the birth defect in the ten states. About 70 percent of the women in each group contacted agreed to take part in the study.

Mothers of babies in both groups were queried through a computer-assisted telephone interview and questioned about whether they had had kidney, bladder, or urinary tract infections, pelvic inflammatory disease or other illnesses, such as STDs, before or during pregnancy. Women who reported having both an STD and UTI immediately before or early in pregnancy were four times more likely to have a child with gastroschisis, the researchers found. Mothers under 25 whose babies had gastroschisis reported having an STD and UTI nearly five times more than mothers in the control group. In women 25 or older, no case mothers reported having both types of infection. Mothers in both groups repored having more UTIs than STDs, the researchers found.

Babies born with gastroschisis have a much better chance of survival now than several decades ago. Surgeons will place the intestines back in the abdomen. But this sometimes can be a slow process resulting in complications.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Utah