Doctors operate on infant girl with ambiguous genitalia

The baby was born in the center of the country with outer genitals that do not have the typical appearance of either a boy or a girl.

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May 12, 2015 06:42
1 minute read.
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Bnai Zion Medical Center. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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A two-year-old girl was released from hospital this week after undergoing the surgical removal of male genitalia – leaving her female sex organs – in a rare operation at Haifa’s Bnai Zion Medical Center.

Prof. Igor Sochotnik, who led the team in the five-hour operation, said it was one of the most complex operations ever carried out in Israel.

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The baby was born in the center of the country with outer genitals that do not have the typical appearance of either a boy or a girl, a congenital defect called “ambiguous genitalia.”

“This condition is genetic and occurs usually in children of consanguineous parents [first cousins who marry and have children],” “said Sochotnik.

A baby inherits one pair of sex chromosomes – one X from the mother and one X or one Y from the father. The father “decides” the genetic sex of the child: a baby who inherits the X chromosome from the father is a genetic female (two X chromosomes), and a baby who inherits the Y chromosome from the father is a genetic male (one X and one Y chromosomes).

The extent of the ambiguity varies; in very rare instances, the physical appearance may be fully developed as the opposite of the genetic sex. For example, a genetic male may have developed a vagina, while the genetic female has a penis.

Bnai Zion’s Sochotnik was assisted by Prof. Daniel Teitelbaum, who is program director of the pediatric surgery residency program at the University of Michigan Health System.

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