Was Your Baby Diagnosed With Omphalocele?

Some Birth Defects Could Be Linked to Medication Use During Pregnancy

Also referred to as exomphalos, omphalocele is a birth defect that affects the baby’s abdominal wall. This is a condition in which the baby’s organs such as the intestines or liver protrude out of the body through the umbilical ring or belly button. The organs are typically still protected by a thin sac that covers the structures. The actual cause is an in utero hernia that forces the organs out of the body. This rupture comes with a number of side effects. There is a high risk of infection, especially if the organs become exposed outside of the sac, as well as risk of further malformation of the abdominal wall. The initial cause of the rupture or omphalocele has been linked to the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy.

Common SSRI antidepressants include the following:

  • Celexa
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Symbyax
  • Zoloft

Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered the increase of risk of omphalocele in women using a SSRI or antidepressant while pregnant. Unfortunately, not all women are informed of these risks and continue to use the medication during pregnancy.

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Commonality of Omphalocele

The CDC usually provides estimates regarding certain conditions and defects. For omphalocele, the agency has been able to show that there are 775 infants born with the defect every year in the United States. This means that one out of every 5,386 children born will acquire the disease. They have also discovered that children who are born with omphalocele often have secondary abnormalities or defects that specifically affect the child’s neural tube or heart. Omphalocele is typically diagnosed during the term of the pregnancy as it develops, but some less severe cases can be diagnosed through physical examination after delivery.

How is it Treated?

In order cure Omphalocele, surgery is required, however, the procedure does not necessarily happen directly after the child is delivered. The exact procedure depends on varying factors such as the size and severity of the protrusion, the gestational age of the baby, and any other possible defects that may be present. A small case of omphalocele often results in one surgery to restore the exposed organs and close up the opening. If the opening is larger and more organs are visible, there may be numerous procedures required to repair the defect.

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