Hypospadias and the 6-8 week baby check

Hypospadias is a fairly common condition affecting baby boys. It means that the urethral opening of the penis is located somewhere along the underside of the penis, rather than at the end.

Typically, when hypospadias is present, the opening to the urethra is found at the junction of the glans of the penis and the shaft. However, it could be anywhere on the underside of the shaft, or even under the scrotum.

Symptoms of hypospadias

The main symptom of hypospadias is the fact that the urethral meatus is not at the tip of the penis. The penis may also appear hooded, as only the top half has foreskin to cover it. It may also curve downwards (a phenomenon known as chordee).

Surgery is usually required to correct hypospadias effectively.

What problems may a patient face with untreated hypospadias?

Hypospadias can affect the way the penis functions, and abnormal spraying when urinating is common. When the child is old enough to use the toilet, they may need to sit down to urinate. In adulthood, if the hypospadias hasn’t been rectified, men may find it difficult to ejaculate or to direct sperm into the uterus, leading to fertility problems.

What are the causes of hypospadias?

Hypospadias is congenital condition but what exactly causes it is unclear. It’s thought to happen to the baby in the womb, where a malfunction happens in the hormones responsible for the development of the penis, foreskin and urethra. Other theories include:

The age of the mother – hypospadias seems to occur slightly more often if the mother is over 35 years old.

Genetics – it also appears to run in families.

Weight of the mother – mothers who are overweight or obese are slightly more likely to give birth to a baby boy with hypospadias. 

A final theory is around exposure to certain substances in the uterus. These substances include certain chemicals, alcohol, tobacco and even some fertility drugs. However, research is still ongoing.

Looking to refresh your 6–8-week baby screening skills?

Hypospadias is covered in PDUK’s online Six-eight-week baby check: update your screening skills course. Offering a flexible, interactive solution for practitioners looking to refresh their skills, our online courses are proving extremely popular. This makes it important to sign up promptly!

The course is aimed at clinicians who have already completed a university accredited course and need to meet yearly update requirements. It’s a one-day course worth 8 hours of valuable CPD but as always, spaces are limited so don’t miss out!

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