The most common complication that children with gastroschisis experience is a slow growth rate57, acid reflux which may include frequent vomiting, and malabsorption. This typically improves over time; an exception is with children who have Short Bowel Syndrome as a result of lost bowel. A loss of 50% or more of the small intestine is defined as Short Bowel Syndrome, which causes dehydration, malabsorption, and malnutrition58.
Another common complication is an abdominal hernia, which many children with gastroschisis require one or more surgeries to correct later in life57. Sometimes, children will become embarrassed about their scars which can impact their emotional development and self-esteem. This is especially common in adolescence, when they are beginning to feel more self-conscious about their bodies. It is important to talk to your child about his or her birth defect and provide emotional support throughout the course of their lifetime47. It can be extremely beneficial to gastroschisis survivors to meet others like them so they do not feel isolated in their condition.
Some children will develop sensory processing issues from their NICU experience for reasons that are not fully understood79. Some children will have feeding or speech problems as a result of delayed feedings or the tubes inserted in their mouths. Some children will have problems with muscle tone and developmental delays from restricted mobility while in the hospital47. All of these issues can be treated with therapy from a qualified occupational or speech therapist80, as needed.
In gastroschisis patients, the intestines always have a degree of malrotation which can cause kinks or twists in the bowel as well as nonspecific pain59. The appendix can be in a different spot in the body, so appendicitis may present differently in gastroschisis survivors if the appendix was not removed during the initial closure operation60. They are also at greater risk for intestinal intussusceptions, and adhesions can cause pain and/or blockages years after surgery61. Intestinal Blockages typically require additional surgical intervention.
Although a more rare complication, studies show that gastroschisis is the leading cause of pediatric intestinal transplantation62 and some children requiring long term TPN use will need liver or multivisceral transplantation63.
Hospital readmissions are most common within the first year of life, with approximately 40% of gastroschisis patients having at least one readmission in their first year64.