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Indicator Report - Birth Defects: Gastroschisis

Why Is This Important?

Over the past 30 years, Utah has seen a ten-fold increase in gastroschisis. The rise in gastroschisis rates has also been reported in other states and countries. The causes of this increase and dramatic difference by maternal age are unknown, but the rapid rise suggests that environmental factors play a major role. Young maternal age, less than 20 years of age, is the strongest and most consistent risk factor for gastroschisis. The reason for this is not understood. A recent study, conducted by Utah investigators, suggests that genitourinary infections (i.e., urinary tract and sexually transmitted infections) in early pregnancy increase the risk for gastroschisis.

Babies with gastroschisis are born with their intestines, and sometimes other abdominal organs, outside the abdomen. Babies with gastroschisis are more likely to be born prematurely and to be small for gestational age. Neonatal morbidity and mortality with gastroschisis is primarily dependent upon the condition of the bowel at delivery. Though current survival rates have improved to 90% in developed countries, long term complications among some infants remain a challenge. The associated costs to care for these children will continue to rise as the number of babies born with gastroschisis increase.

Burden of disease and medical costs associated with gastroschisis are substantial. Just the direct medical costs to treat an infant with gastroschisis were estimated to be over $83,000 (Utah Department of Health, Medicaid Data). For the estimated 25 children born with these conditions every year in Utah, their direct medical costs would therefore be in the order of $2.1 million. This figure, though high, is only partial. For example, it does not include cost for special services if they are needed after the initial repair.

Tracking gastroschisis occurrence in Utah women is crucial in assessing this birth defect in Utah and in helping to plan for the care of affected children. Cost and quality of life for affected families are other crucial areas of assessment.

Prevalence of Gastroschisis by Race/Ethnicity in Utah, 1997-2007

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Data Sources

Utah Birth Defect Network.

Other Views


Number of cases of gastroschisis per 10,000 births.

How We Calculated the Rates

Numerator: Number of cases of gastroschisis among live births and fetal deaths among women residing in Utah.
Denominator: Number of live births and stillbirths among women residing in Utah.

Page Content Updated On 04/23/2009, Published on 07/20/2012
The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: "Retrieved Fri, 03 July 2015 19:39:14 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site:".

Content updated: Tue, 19 Nov 2013 23:09:23 MST