CDC Reports Spike in Bizarre Birth Defect that Leaves Intestines Sticking Out

January 22, 2016
Amy Jacob

Gastroschisis, a birth defect that causes a baby’s internal organ’s to spill out of the body, is becoming more prevalent, especially among infants born to mothers under the age of 20.

Gastroschisis, a birth defect that causes a baby’s internal organs to spill out of the body, is becoming more prevalent, especially among infants born to mothers under the age of 20.

The birth defect, which creates a hole near the belly button allowing the intestines and/or other internal organs to squeeze out, is surgically treatable; it can still impart lasting effects on the affected child’s digestive ability.

The CDC released a report assessing the growth in incidences of gastroschisis from 2006 to 2012 among live births in 14 states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, and Utah.

Interestingly, although the increase is recorded among all age groups of mothers since 2005, it’s particularly prevalent among young mothers below 20 years of age.

According to the report, researchers estimated 4.9 per 10,000 live births had gastroschisis between 2006 and 2012, approximately a 30% increased compared to reports from 1995 to 2005.

Despite this growth in rate, experts are unable to pinpoint a simple explanation.

CDC authors said in the release, “The association between young maternal age and gastroschisis was first reported in the late 1970s, and this risk factor has been documented consistently in subsequent studies. However, the increased prevalence of gastroschisis is not because of an increase in teen births, which have declined in recent years, or to a change in the distribution of births to teen mothers, as birth rates have decreased among women of all ages.”

Their data did show the defect was most seen among whites (18.1 per 10,000 live births) and Hispanics (16.1 per 10,000), and least common among blacks (10.2 per 10,000).

Recent studies had attributed the birth defect to factors such as drug use, poor nutrition, and having a young father, but experts acknowledged further research is necessary to outline concrete connections.