Revealed: baby boys with undescended testicles are twice as likely to get cancer as adults

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Birth defects in babies

Some birth defects can give us lifelong pains. Sometimes these birth defects can cause physiological pains for the better part of life and some create a fear and anxiety forever. In fact, a new study says that baby boys who are born with undescended testicles are more likely to suffer from cancer and infertility as adults. This condition is called cryptorchidism where male infants have undescended testicles at birth.

The study found out that male infants who are born with their testicles in their abdomens rather than their scrotums are 2.4 times more at risk of testicular cancer as adults than those without the birth defect. The link between cryptorchidism and cancer is unclear, however, previous research suggests testicles reach a higher temperature when in the abdomen, which may trigger tumour development in later life.

This may also be a reason why men born with cryptorchidism can suffer from infertility. Ideally, testicles should be on the outside of the body as sperm production takes place at 35°C, which is 2°C cooler than our body temperature. But the study found out that one in every 25 boys in the UK and three per cent in the US are born with cryptorchidism. Although their testicles usually descend on their own, one in 100 requires treatment. Researchers from the University of Sydney analysed 350,835 boys who were born in Western Australia between 1970 and 1999. The participants were followed until 2016. Data registers were examined to determine if the participants had any birth defects, hospital admissions or cancer diagnoses, as well as if they underwent assisted reproduction treatments.

The most shocking part is that for every six-month delay in surgically moving undescended testicles from the abdomen to the scrotum, a baby boy’s later risk of testicular cancer increases by six per cent. Men born with this condition are also 20 per cent more likely to suffer from infertility.

The findings were published in the journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.