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Jornal de Pediatria

Print version ISSN 0021-7557On-line version ISSN 1678-4782


GUERRA-JUNIOR, Gil  and  MACIEL-GUERRA, Andréa T.. The role of the pediatrician in the management of children with genital ambiguities. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.) [online]. 2007, vol.83, n.5, suppl., pp.S184-S191. ISSN 0021-7557.

OBJECTIVE: To present the diagnostic criteria of genital ambiguity, the initial medical management and the attitude expected of pediatricians. SOURCES: Review of the scientific literature in the form of articles indexed on MEDLINE, in English and Portuguese, published between 1990 and 2007 and dealing with the pediatric age group. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS: Pediatricians have a fundamental role to play in the assessment of genital ambiguity, the purpose of which is to arrive at an etiologic diagnosis in the shortest possible time in order to define the patient's sex and plan treatment. There are specific diagnostic criteria, but, in general, genitalia are ambiguous whenever there is difficulty in attributing gender to a child. The pediatrician should inform the patient's family that assignment of their child's sex will depend upon detailed laboratory investigations, preferably carried out by a multidisciplinary team at a tertiary service. The 46,XX or 46,XY karyotypes are not alone sufficient to define the gender of rearing, although the test is fundamental to guide the investigation. When there are no palpable gonads, the first hypothesis should be congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Other causes included partial androgen insensitivity, 5a-reductase deficiency, partial gonadal dysgenesis and hermaphroditism. The family should be provided with support and information throughout the assessment process, and their participation is fundamental in the decision of which gender to rear the child in. CONCLUSIONS: Although cases of genital ambiguity are relatively rare for pediatricians, they should be well-informed on the subject and the correct management of these conditions, since they will often be responsible for the initial guidance that families receive and for maintaining contact between them and the multidisciplinary team.

Keywords : Ambiguity; determination; differentiation; genitalia; intersex.

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