Gastroschisis – a Serious Birth Defect - Continues to Increase

New CDC research shows that the occurrence of gastroschisis, a birth defect where a baby’s intestines stick outside of the body through a hole beside the belly button, continues to increase over time. Importantly, the causes for the continued increase in the number of babies born with gastroschisis are unknown, and public health research is urgently needed to uncover more clues. You can read the article at or read more below for a summary of this study’s findings.

What did we already know?

Since the 1980s, the number of babies born with gastroschisis has increased, especially among young mothers. A previous study showed that gastroschisis nearly doubled from 1995-2005. The causes of this increase and whether the increase has continued more recently was unknown.

What were this study’s main findings?

  • The highest prevalence of gastroschisis occurred in teen mothers (younger than 20 years old). The increase in gastroschisis prevalence among teen mothers is not related to the birth rate for teen mothers, which has actually declined over the same time period.
  • Gastroschisis has continued to increase in the most recent years. The prevalence of gastroschisis increased from 1995 to 2012 among mothers in every age group and for each racial/ethnic group that was studied (non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Hispanics).
  • The largest increase in gastroschisis was among babies born to non-Hispanic black mothers younger than 20 years of age.

About this Study

Researchers used data from population-based birth defects tracking programs in 14 states. Participating states were Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, and Utah. In this study, researchers looked at the prevalence of babies affected by gastroschisis in these 14 states and trends in gastroschisis over time.

About Birth Defects

Birth defects are common, costly, and critical conditions that affect 1 in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. Birth defects are structural changes present at birth that can affect almost any part or parts of the body (such as the heart, brain, face, arms, and legs). They may affect how the body looks, works, or both.

Our Work

CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) saves babies by preventing birth defects. NCBDDD identifies causes of birth defects, finds opportunities to prevent them, and improves the health of those living with birth defects. Learn how NCBDDD makes a difference by visiting


Jones AM, Isenburg J, Salemi JL, Arnold KE, Mai CT, Aggarwal D, Arias W, Carrino GE, Ferrell E, Folorunso O, Ibe B, Kirby RS, Krapfl HR, Marengo LK, Mosley BS, Nance AE, Romitti PA, Spadafino J, Stock J, Honein MA. Increasing Prevalence of Gastroschisis — 14 States, 1995-2012. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016