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J Pediatr Surg. 2002 Nov;37(11):1594-601.

Morbidity and quality of life in adult patients with a congenital abdominal wall defect: a questionnaire survey.

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Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University, Helsinki, Finland.



In children with congenital abdominal wall defects (CAWD), surgical treatment of the abdominal defect and the associated anomalies cause considerable morbidity in the first years of life. Afterward, most of the CAWD patients with correctable anomalies develop as other children. The morbidity and quality of life (QoL) of CAWD patients who have reached their adulthood is less well known and the subject of this study.


A 3-part questionnaire was sent to 75 former patients with CAWD, aged 17 years or more. The first part included questions about health, symptoms, and education; the second part consisted of 3 tests of psychosocial functioning; and the third part was a SF-36 questionnaire measuring the QoL.


Of the 75 patients, 57 (76%) answered: (25 males, 32 females); omphalocele (n = 16) gastroschisis (n = 11); median age, 27 (range, 17 to 48) years. With the exception of rheumatoid arthritis (in 7% of patients), the prevalence of acquired diseases in CAWD patients was comparable with that of the general population; 50 of 57 (88%) considered their health good. The most frequent causes of morbidity were disorders in the abdominal scar in 21 (37%) patients, and functional gastrointestinal disorders in 29 (51%) of patients. Low self-esteem was found in 12% of patients, but the QoL and educational level of CAWD patients were not different from that of the general population.


In CAWD patients the morbidity from acquired disorders is similar to morbidity in the general population. Disorders with the abdominal scar and various functional gastrointestinal disorders are common, but they rarely cause serious problems. The majority of CAWD patients have a quality of life not different from the general population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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