What is prune belly syndrome?

Prune belly syndrome is a rare condition that is present at birth. It is known by its three main features:

  • There is a lack of or severe weakness of the muscles of the stomach. As a result, the baby’s stomach skin is wrinkled like a prune.
  • A baby boy’s testicles fail to drop from inside the body into the scrotum (the delicate sack of skin behind the penis).
  • There are problems with how the urinary system (urine flow system) has formed.

The syndrome can also affect other parts of the body. These include the heart, lungs, intestines and skeletal system. Other names for prune belly syndrome are triad syndrome and Eagle-Barrett syndrome.

Who gets prune belly syndrome?

Prune belly syndrome is rare. It happens only in about one in every 30,000 to 40,000 babies born. It mostly happens in boys (about 95% of the cases).

What causes prune belly syndrome?

Prune belly syndrome starts in a baby while it is still in its mother’s womb. No one knows the exact cause of prune belly syndrome. A baby might get it if there is a buildup of urine in the bladder, where it is stored. This may be caused by a block in the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body.

If there is a block, the urine can flow backward instead of out, causing the bladder to get bigger. A large bladder can get in the way of the stomach muscles. This keeps the muscles from forming the right way. It also causes problems with the urinary system and testicles.

Sometimes, brothers and sisters have prune belly syndrome, which may mean the problem is genetic (runs in the family).