Prune belly syndrome is a group of rare birth defects that involves these three main problems:
Eagle-Barrett syndrome; Triad syndrome
The exact causes of prune belly syndrome are unknown. The condition affects mostly boys.
While in the womb, the developing baby's abdomen swells with fluid. Often, the cause is a problem in the urinary tract. The fluid disappears after birth, leading to a wrinkled abdomen that looks like a prune. This appearance is more noticeable due to the lack of abdominal muscles.
Weak abdominal muscles can cause:
Urinary tract problems can cause difficulty urinating.
Early surgery is recommended to fix weak abdominal muscles, urinary tract problems, and undescended testicles.
The baby may be given antibiotics to treat or help prevent urinary tract infections.
The following resources can provide more information on prune belly syndrome:
Prune belly syndrome is a serious and often life-threatening problem.
Many infants with this condition are either stillborn or die within the first few weeks of life. The cause of death is from severe lung or kidney problems, or from a combination of birth problems.
Some newborns survive and can develop normally. Others continue to have many medical and developmental problems.
Complications depend on the related problems. The most common are:
Undescended testicles can lead to infertility or cancer.
Prune belly syndrome is usually diagnosed before birth or when the baby is born.
If you have a child with diagnosed prune belly syndrome, call your health care provider at the first sign of a urinary tract infection or other urinary symptoms.
If a pregnancy ultrasound shows that your baby has a swollen bladder or enlarged kidneys, talk to a specialist in high-risk pregnancy or perinatology.
There is no known way to prevent this condition. If the baby is diagnosed with a urinary tract obstruction before birth, in rare cases, surgery during the pregnancy may help prevent the problem from progressing to prune belly syndrome.
Caldamone AA, Denes FT. Prune-belly syndrome. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 140.
Elder JS. Obstruction of the urinary tract. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 555.
Merguerian PA, Rowe CK. Developmental abnormalities of the genitourinary system. In: Gleason CA, Juul SE, eds. Avery's Diseases of the Newborn. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 88.