Prevalence of gastroschisis and associated hospital time continue to rise in neonates who are admitted for intensive care.
Gastroschisis offers the intriguing epidemiological situation of a pandemic, strongly associated with very low maternal age. Identifying gastroschisis, and distinguishing it from the other abdominal wall defects, is theoretically easy but difficult in practice. The baseline birth prevalence of gastroschisis before the pandemic was approximately 1 in 50,000 births and has increased since between 10- and 20-fold. In many populations worldwide, it is still increasing. Such increasing prevalence and the association with very low maternal age are well proven, but the interaction between these two findings remains unknown. Geographic gradients (decreasing prevalence from North to South) are clear in Continental Europe and suggestive in Britain and Ireland. Gastroschisis seems more frequent in Caucasians compared to African Blacks and Orientals, and in Northern compared to Southern Europeans. These observations indicate the need for investigating gene-environment interactions. Since the global human situation is marked by inequalities among as well as within countries, the medical care and public health impact of gastroschisis varies widely among regions and social strata. The postnatal benefits of prenatal diagnosis of gastroschisis include family awareness; adequate planning of delivery with alerted obstetrical, pediatric, and surgical staff; optimal risk categorization, and personalized protocol for action. The increasing prevalence of gastroschisis combined with improved medical techniques to reduce morbidity and mortality are also increasing the burden and costs of this anomaly on health systems.