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Rising rate of malformation of male urinary tract in US

    J.R., Penile birth defect on the rise, Science News 152 (22): 344, 
  November 29, 1997.
      The U.S. incidence of hypospadias - a male birth defect
      characterized by a malplacement of the urinary outlet - nearly
      doubled between 1968 and 1993, a new study finds.  This is the
      first report of such an increase outside Europe (SN: 1/22/94, p.
      Epidemiologists at the federal Centers for Disease Control and
      Prevention in Atlanta analyzed data from two registries of birth
      defects.  The U.S. rate, now "approaching 1 percent of male
      births," is among the highest reported anywhere, observes
      Leonard J. Paulozzi, who led the study.  In the November
      "Pediatrics," his team notes that severe cases appear to account
      for most of the increase.  Although the rising incidence shows
      up in all regions of the country, the rate of increase has been
      highest in the Southeast and in non-whites - previously, a
      relatively low-risk group.
      Hypospadias, which is correctable through surgery, traces to
      some disruption in the development of the penile urethra - the
      urine-carrying organ - between weeks 9 and 12 of gestation. 
      What triggers the deformity remains unknown, although Paulozzi
      notes  could stem from a mother's steroid use early in
      pregnancy, from dietary factors, or from exposure to any of
      dozens of pollutants that can mimic effects of estrogen and
      other steroid hormones. 
  Pat Costner
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