Children's Hospital Colorado

Bladder Exstrophy

What is bladder exstrophy?

In babies with bladder exstrophy, the skin, muscle and pelvic hip bones of the lower belly are malformed, causing the bladder to protrude from the skin. The genitals can also be deformed and the muscles surrounding the bladder and urethra fail to function properly. Without normal muscle and neurological function, future incontinence – the inability to control urination – is at risk without surgery.

What causes bladder exstrophy?

This condition occurs in as few as 1 in 50,000 live births. However, a family history makes it more likely. Children born to a parent with bladder exstrophy have about a 1-in-70 chance of having it, and if parents have one child with this condition, they have a 1-in-100 chance of having another child with it.

Recent studies also suggest that children born as the result of fertility treatments are 7 times more likely to have bladder exstrophy than those conceived without fertility assistance. There is a slightly increased rate of bladder exstrophy in mothers who use progestins (a natural or synthetic steroid hormone, such as progesterone, to maintain pregnancy). Males are five times more likely than females to be diagnosed.

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