The aim of the study was to analyse the degree to which gestational age (GA) has been shortened due to prenatal diagnosis of gastrointestinal malformations (GIM). The data source for the study was 14 population-based registries of congenital malformations (EUROCAT). All liveborn infants with GIMs and without chromosomal anomalies, born 1997–2002, were included. The 14 registries identified 1047 liveborn infants with one or more GIMs (oesophageal atresia, duodenal atresia, omphalocele, gastroschisis and diaphragmatic hernia). Median GA at birth was lower in prenatally diagnosed cases for all five malformations, although not statistically significant for gastroschisis. There was little difference in median birthweight by GA for the pre- and postnatally diagnosed infants.The difference in GA at birth between prenatally and postnatally diagnosed infants with GIMs is enough to increase the risk of mortality for the prenatally diagnosed infants. Clinicians need to balance the risk of early delivery against the benefits of clinical convenience when making case management decisions after prenatal diagnosis. Very few studies have been able to show benefits of prenatal diagnosis of congenital malformations for liveborn infants. This may be because the benefits of prenatal diagnosis are outweighed by the problems arising from a lower GA at birth.