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"What is abdominal wall defect?"


My wife's first baby was born with an abdominal wall defect, which she said was a horrible process for them to have to treat on a new baby. (The kid is four now and he's in great health!) But if we have a baby together now, what are the chances this baby will also have a defect? What is an abdominal wall defect?


Many prospective parents have concerns about the chances of a child having a birth defect. The doctors who will be best qualified to discuss this with you include a pediatrician or a medical geneticist. Abdominal wall defect actually consists of two related congenital disorders, omphalocele and gastroschisis.

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In both conditions, there is a failure of the abdominal wall to form completely and some organs may be outside the body. This can require challenging surgical repair. Sometimes the abdominal wall defect is also associated with other problems, such as heart defects. The genetics of abdominal wall defects are complex, and sometimes they are isolated defects without any higher chance of recurrence in a second pregnancy. However, some forms are inherited. One common form of gastroschisis has autosomal recessive inheritance, meaning that both your wife and her former partner may have carried the gene. Genetic testing and counseling, including testing to see if you also carry the gene, might be indicated before considering the pregnancy. As always the counseling and management of any potential pregnancy and its complications require meeting face to face with a doctor. Setting up a visit with a pediatrician or geneticist before the pregnancy might be advised.

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