According to CBS News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have noticed a climb in infants born with gastroschisis. The birth defect, in which infants are born with their intestines exposed outside of the body, has doubled in the last 18 years, and doctors still haven't figured out a reason why.
"It concerns us that we don't know why more babies are being born with this serious birth defect," said Coleen Boyle, the director for the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disorders.
The CDC is concerned for the mother as much as the child. Their report states that the disorder is the most common in teen mothers, particularly non-Hispanic blacks under the age of 20.
"Public health research is urgently needed to figure out the cause and why certain women are at higher risk of having a baby born with gastroschisis," she said.
UPI reports that nearly 2,000 babies are born with gastroschisis each year. Numbers went up in the last 20 years despite the number of teen mothers dropping during that same time period.
While there is no way to identify what exactly happens to cause gastroschisis, the best way to protect infants is early stage care. Dr. James Greenberg, who works as the co-director of the Perinatal Institute and director of Neonatology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, stressed the importance of prenatal care.
"This can be picked up on a routine second trimester ultrasound," said Greenberg. "For the caretakers, knowing ahead of time is very valuable for these babies. Treatment works when we know ahead of time."