Babies and children can be prone to a number of medical problems, some of which they are born with. For example, some common medical issues that male babies face include foreskin problems and undescended testes. Mr Stefano Giuliani, a leading paediatric surgeon, explains some of the most common medical problems in children that he regularly treats.
What foreskin problems are common in children?
Foreskin problems are common in children because often babies and toddlers are not able to retract the foreskin. This condition is called phimosis and it is normal within the first few years of life. Unfortunately, if a child is not able to retract the foreskin, this can cause itchiness, soreness and redness of the tip of the foreskin. This can lead to the development of an infection, or recurrent infections of the foreskin, called balanitis, which is a serious condition, mainly because it can lead to the formation of a scar on the foreskin. Such a scar would make the foreskin less elastic, causing problems in the long-term. In some cases, it will be recommended to perform circumcision to avoid this type of infection in the long-term. Circumcision is a surgical procedure to excise and resect part of the foreskin.
What is an undescended testicle and is it common in children?
Undescended testes are when the testicle, either on one side or on both sides is not present in the scrotum. Undescended testes are common in children and, in particular, is present in 1 out of 25 newborn babies. This is because the testes can still migrate to the normal location inside the scrotum within the first three months of age after birth. It is important to recognise and understand undescended testes, because if the testes are not present in the scrotum after three months of age, that baby will need an operation known as an orchidopexy, to allow the testes to be present in the scrotum. This operation is performed on approximately 1% of otherwise healthy children and when it is necessary, it is important as it can preserve fertility in the future.
What is a tongue-tie and how is it treated?
A tongue-tie is a membrane that connects the bottom of the tongue to the base of the mouth. It is relatively common in new-born babies and we think the occurrence of this problem is between 4 and 11 per cent. The treatment is different based on the age of the baby. New-born babies up to the age of three months can have a release of this membrane done as a day-case without any need of general or local anaesthesia. If the baby is older, or they are a child with a tongue-tie, we cannot do the same simple procedure, but instead, we may need to perform a procedure in theatre using a special laser to release the tongue-tie.
If your child is suffering from any of the above medical problems, make an appointment with an expert to get a diagnosis and treatment.