Homozygous α-thalassaemia and hypospadias – common aetiology or incidental association?
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Fetuses with homozygous α-thalassaemia develop Hb Bart's hydrops fetalis syndrome, which usually leads either to abortion or fetal/neonatal death. We report diagnosis, intrauterine transfusion therapy, neonatal intensive care management and long-term follow-up of a Vietnamese infant who survived Hb Bart's hydrops fetalis syndrome. During the first 2 years the child had normal development. In addition, the patient exhibited penoscrotal hypospadias. Despite a thorough endocrinological work-up the aetiology of genital ambiguity could not be elucidated. A review of the literature showed an association of homozygous α-thalassaemia and hypospadias in all surviving male children, suggesting a common aetiology for both entities.
Conclusion On the basis of our findings, we speculate that an unknown gene on chromosome 16 responsible for genital formation is altered in homozygous α-thalassaemia.
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