When a child is born, one of the first questions asked is “Boy or girl?” Sometimes the question is not easy to answer. In those cases, parents are confronted with a situation they most likely didn’t expect. They will need to participate in decisions that affect how the child is raised, and what treatment, if any, the child will receive.

To assist in these situations, we provide here up-to-date research findings relating to the genetics and biology of sex development: the role of sex chromosomes, early events that define the sex of the embryo, and the role of hormones in shaping the sex organs.

This information is used as a basis for discussing the different types of atypical sex development and DSD, including information on the causes, frequency, repercussions, associated risks, and common ways of dealing with each.

 

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Last updated: 15 July 2015

Edit history: Author P. Koopman 9/09; revised PK 5/11, 9/12, 5/13.