More babies are being born with organs outside their bodies, and experts have no idea why

Jan 22, 2016

Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

By Sarah Kaplan

When Brooke gave birth, she wasn’t able to hold her newborn daughter against her, feel the baby’s tiny chest rise and fall as it issued its first, tremendous wail.

Instead, she got only a brief glimpse of her child, Anna, before the little girl was whisked away into surgery.

What she saw was disquieting: Her infant daughter’s intestines protruded outside her body, dark and slick and alien-looking. It would take a nerve-wracking operation and weeks in the intensive care unit until her internal organs were back were they belonged and baby Anna could finally come home, Brooke wrote for the CDC (the post does not give her last name).

Anna was born with gastroschisis, a rare birth defect that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said has become worryingly more common in recent years, particularly for young African American mothers.

In a report published Friday, the public health agency said that it found 30 percent more cases of the disease between 2006 and 2012 than it did from 1995 to 2005. Among African American mothers who were younger than 20, the number of babies born with the disease jumped 263 percent.

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4 comments on “More babies are being born with organs outside their bodies, and experts have no idea why

  • Unfortunate, but also note what is happening in Brazil. Over 4,000 infants are being born with microcephaly, because of a virus infection. I am afraid there will be more of such cases. Look at Africa and other parts of the world, millions of kids are dying of starvation, disease and abuse, and sold into slavery.

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    We “think” we know the cause of this form of microcephaly. It is a virus borne by a mosquito. Zika virus is generally mild and only causes symptoms in one in five people. It is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue and chikungunya.

    Now there haven’t been enough studies to CONFIRM that the virus causes these small malformed heads, but many of the babies have been found to have the virus in their brain tissue….found on autopsy after these children had died. Since you can’t determine if the virus is in the brain in living children…well more studies are needed.

    But for now, women of child-bearing age are urged not to get pregnant in areas with the most mosquitoes and the Zika virus is present or to use measures such as mosquito nets while sleeping, full sleeves, long pants, mosquito repellant.

    Evolutionary biology is responsible for new strains of viruses, and what chemicals are even able to kill mosquitoes anymore. I grew up in the age of DDT where in Hawai’i we used to run after the wagons spraying DDT as the mist was cooling. Of course DDT has terrible side effects.

    This gastroschisis is alarming! I have worked in NICUs where we had both gastroschisis (intestines outside body) and the heart lying outside the chest cavity. Ectopia cordis results from a failure of proper maturation of midline mesoderm and ventral body wall formation during embryonic development. And these cases ALWAYS involved a very young mother from a poor home. Nutrition? The world’s population is expanding while resources–clean water, adequate nutrition, access to pre-natal care are NOT INCREASING. Three trips with Doctors without Borders (MSF) opened my eyes to the incredible poverty in the world.

    Now I only saw a few cases…Ectopia cordis only happens 8 times in a million births.

    These babies require multiple operations and in some very poor countries, the children grow up with this condition, usually dying young. I taught vertebrate embryology and there are so many things that can go wrong that it’s surprising any babies turn out “normal.”

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  • there is concern that this is going to spead throughout South America and even to North America, there are now over 4,000 infants born with organs outside body and other abnormalities, also there is the problem with infants born with reduced head size and neurological disorders, so it goes

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