Disorders of Sexual Differentiation
It's more important to make the best decision than to make a fast one. In some cases, it can take weeks to decide what's best for a child and it's ultimately a team decision
Norman Spack, MD, co-director of Children's Disorders of Sexual Differentiation Clinic
At Children’s Hospital Boston, we work with children and their families to provide a comprehensive plan for medical and surgical management of disorders of sexual differentiation (DSDs), as well as psychological care and support.
DSDs describe a group of conditions that occur when a fetus goes through an atypical stage of sexual development, starting in the womb. Understandably, a diagnosis of a DSD can cause worry, concern or frustration for families and caregivers. It may comfort you to know that these variations in sex anatomy are not as uncommon you as may think.
Here’s what you need to know about DSDs:
- Disorders of sexual differentiation, also known as disorders of sexual development, refers to conditions that occur when boys and girls take less-common paths of sexual development in the womb.
- There are many different variations of sex development. The most common DSDs detected in newborns are congenital adrenal hyperplasiaand mixed gonadal dysgensis.
- While most children with DSDs have genitals that are atypical in appearance , not all do.
- Between 1 in 1,500 and 1 in 2,000 infants are born with noticeable “genital ambiguity.” A term that describes children whom you cannot tell by looking at their genitals whether they’re male or female.
- The treatment for DSDs vary depending on the complexity of the condition and usually involve medication, surgery and psychosocial support
How Children's approaches disorders of sexual differentiation
The Gender Management Service (GeMS) Clinic at Children’s is designed to take a multidisciplinary approach to address a child’s medical and surgical issues that may arise from disorders of sexual differentiation. Our treatment team includes urologists, endocrinologists and geneticists, as well as a research psychologist, social workers and nurses who run support groups. Our expert physicians and clinical staff work closely with your child and your family.
Disorders of sexual differentiation: Reviewed by David A. Diamond, MD
© Children’s Hospital Boston; posted in 2012