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Environ Health Perspect. 2001 November; 109(11): 1175–1183.
PMCID: PMC1240480
Research Article

Hypospadias and endocrine disruption: is there a connection?


Hypospadias is one of the most common congenital anomalies in the United States, occurring in approximately 1 in 250 newborns or roughly 1 in 125 live male births. It is the result of arrested development of the urethra, foreskin, and ventral surface of the penis where the urethral opening may be anywhere along the shaft, within the scrotum, or in the perineum. The only treatment is surgery. Thus, prevention is imperative. To accomplish this, it is necessary to determine the etiology of hypospadias, the majority of which have been classified as idiopathic. In this paper we briefly describe the normal development of the male external genitalia and review the prevalence, etiology, risk factors, and epidemiology of hypospadias. The majority of hypospadias are believed to have a multifactorial etiology, although a small percentage do result from single gene mutations. Recent findings suggest that some hypospadias could be the result of disrupted gene expression. Discoveries about the antiandrogenic mechanisms of action of some contemporary-use chemicals have provided new knowledge about the organization and development of the urogenital system and may provide additional insight into the etiology of hypospadias and direction for prevention.

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