The 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 from a urinary tract abnormality. That fluid disappears after birth, leading to a wrinkled abdomen that looks like a prune. The appearance is more noticeable due to the lack of abdominal muscles.
Urinary tract problems can cause difficulty urinating.
Exams and Tests
A woman who is pregnant with a baby who has prune belly syndrome may not have enough amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios). This can cause the infant to have lung problems due to the compression of the baby.
Disease of the urinary tract (patients may need dialysis and a kidney transplant)
Undescended testicles can lead to infertility or cancer.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
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 distended 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.
Elder JS, Obstruction of the urinary tract. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 534.
Chad Haldeman-Englert, MD, FACMG, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Section on Medical Genetics, Winston-Salem, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.