6 Common Baby Genital Problems

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

What it is: A UTI is an overgrowth of bacteria in the urinary tract. In the first year of life, they are more likely in boys, especially uncircumcised boys (the foreskin can trap bacteria). But baby girls can get UTIs too -- because the urethra and anus are so close in female anatomy. Many times, unexplained high fever is the only symptom of a UTI. But you may also notice odd-smelling urine, unexplained irritability, poor feeding, or vomiting. Notify your pediatrician if you do; if left untreated, a UTI can cause kidney damage.

What to do: A course of antibiotics (usually ten days) easily treats a UTI, says Dr. McEvoy.

How to Treat Diaper Rash
How to Treat Diaper Rash

Labial Adhesions

What they are: The folds of skin in front of the vagina can fuse together. This can occur after the skin becomes raw and irritated (possibly as the result of a diaper rash), says Monique Regard, M.D., a pediatric gynecologist at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital at Westchester Medical Center, in New York. Adhesions can vary in size, are rarely painful, and usually don't stop urine flow.

What to do: In most cases, nothing -- don't try to unstick the skin yourself. They generally resolve on their own and will certainly disappear when estrogen production kicks in during puberty. If your baby has trouble urinating or frequently gets UTIs, your pediatrician may recommend prescription steroid or estrogen cream or, in rare cases, surgery to separate the adhesions.

Penile Adhesions

What they are: These are a possible complication of circumcision. Whenever body tissue is cut, the edges can stick to surrounding areas. Raw areas of the loose foreskin can stick to the head of the penis. It may look like the head is covered by a thin film or like it was never circumcised.

What to do: Penile adhesions are usually painless and release over time as the penis grows, so no treatment is needed, says Dr. McEvoy. When the adhesions are extensive, a doctor may prescribe a mild steroid cream for treatment.

Originally published in the August 2010 issue of Parents magazine.

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