Gastroschisis: epidemiology and mode of delivery, 2005–2013

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Gastroschisis is a severe congenital anomaly the etiology of which is unknown. Research evidence supports attempted vaginal delivery for pregnancies complicated by gastroschisis in the absence of obstetric indications for cesarean delivery.


The objectives of the study evaluating pregnancies complicated by gastroschisis were to determine the proportion of women undergoing planned cesarean vs attempted vaginal delivery and to provide up-to-date epidemiology on the risk factors associated with this anomaly.


This population-based study of US natality records from 2005 through 2013 evaluated pregnancies complicated by gastroschisis. Women were classified based on whether they attempted vaginal delivery or underwent a planned cesarean (n = 24,836,777). Obstetrical, medical, and demographic characteristics were evaluated. Multivariable log-linear regression models were developed to determine the factors associated with the mode of delivery. Factors associated with the occurrence of the anomaly were also evaluated in log-linear models.


Of 5985 pregnancies with gastroschisis, 63.5% (n = 3800) attempted vaginal delivery and 36.5% (n = 2185) underwent a planned cesarean delivery. The rate of attempted vaginal delivery increased from 59.7% in 2005 to 68.8% in 2013. Earlier gestational age and Hispanic ethnicity were associated with lower rates of attempted vaginal delivery. Factors associated with the occurrence of gastroschisis included young age, smoking, high educational attainment, and being married. Protective factors included chronic hypertension, black race, and obesity. The incidence of gastroschisis was 3.1 per 10,000 pregnancies and did not increase during the study period.


Attempted vaginal delivery is becoming increasingly prevalent for women with a pregnancy complicated by gastroschisis. Recommendations from the research literature findings may be diffusing into clinical practice. A significant proportion of women with this anomaly still deliver by planned cesarean, suggesting further reduction of surgical delivery for this anomaly is possible.

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