From the time of birth until the intestines are completely back within the body, your baby’s exposed intestines place your child at a greater risk of sepsis, hypothermia, hypoglycemia, and dehydration. All of these are serious risks.47
While your child is healing, the most concerning complication is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (or NEC)47. NEC is an intestinal infection that can cause delicate bowel tissue to die, leading to Short Bowel Syndrome. Possible causes for this are a loss of bloodflow or a bacterial infection48. Studies have shown that premature and formula feed infants have a greater risk for contracting NEC49 and breastfeeding can help guard against a NEC50, even if donor milk it utilized51.
Additionally, while your child has a central line and is receiving TPN there is a risk of infection. This is commonly a staph infection52 or a fungal infection53, both of which can lead to septicemia – a potentially fatal blood infection.
Before your child can begin to eat, the intestines must begin to work properly. Delayed intestinal motility is a factor in long term hospital stays and extended TPN use54, which can cause liver damage.
Occasionally, an atresia (closure) or intestinal stenosis (narrowing) will be diagnosed when your child begins eating. This occurs in 10-20% of gastroschisis cases55. An atresia will always require surgery56, while a stenosis may or may not require additional procedures.