How often does omphalocele occur?

Small-type omphalocele is estimated to occur in one of every 5,000 births. Large-type omphaloceles occurs in about one in every 10,000 births.

Omphaloceles generally are more dangerous than gastroschisis because in about 25 percent to 40 percent of the cases, they are accompanied by other birth defects. Babies with large-type omphaloceles

Sometimes a small-type omphacele can be repaired through surgery shortly after birth. However, the treatment of large-type omphalocele is more complex. The organs developing outside the body, with a large-type omphalocele, are protected by a membrane, but it is fragile.

If the membrane breaks, the resulting infections are almost always fatal. Complicating matters, the newborn's abdomen is generally too small for surgeons to implant the organs in the body.

To protect the membrane-covered organs in the interim, doctors often employ a treatment called paint and wait. In this treatment, doctors order an antibiotic cream that is applied regularly to the membranes sac which surrounds the organs. As the membrane hardens, skin develops and begins to cover a portion of the organs. Once the baby is bigger and the situation has stabilized, surgeons will close the abdominal cavity, tucking the organs inside.

Although these birth defects can be life-threatening, medical advancements frequently make them treatable.

Continue Learning about Gastrointestinal Tract Birth Defects

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