The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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"A baby's groin is usually the last thing parents think about, so when there's a problem, they're pretty frightened," says Charles Shubin, M.D., director of pediatrics at Mercy FamilyCare in Baltimore. The good news is that many conditions resolve on their own or require only minor surgery. Here are three common ones:
1. Swollen Genitals Due to fluid retention and extra maternal hormones released before giving birth, newborns often have swollen testicles or labia. Generally, the genitals shrink within a few weeks.
2. Undescended Testicles In 3 percent to 5 percent of full-term boys and 30 percent of preterm boys, one or both testicles remain in the abdomen or inguinal canal (the passage between the abdomen and scrotum). "If they haven't descended by 6 months of age, the usual recommendation is to surgically bring them to their usual place in the scrotum," says Jeffrey S. Palmer, M.D., director of Minimally Invasive Pediatric Urology at the Cleveland Clinic's Glickman Urological Institute in Ohio.
3. Inguinal Hernia During the last few weeks of pregnancy, after testicles move to the scrotum in boys, and ovaries into the pelvis in girls, the inguinal canal normally closes. "If it doesn't, a loop of the intestine may bulge through, creating a lump in the groin called a hernia," Shubin says. Inguinal hernias occur in 3 percent to 5 percent of newborns and are most common in boys and preterm babies. They're sometimes visible during crying or straining and usually need to be surgically corrected.