Scientists have raised alarm over the high number of male infants being born with genital defects in Kiambu County.
A study carried out by the University of Nairobi researchers indicates that manhood defects account for the highest level of birth abnormalities among boys in Kiambu.
Hypospadias, a rare condition where the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis instead of at the tip was found to be the most common defect among boys in the county.
In the study published in the Pan African Medical Journal, UON researchers George Nyadimo Agot, Marshal Mutinda Mweu, and Joseph Kibuchi Wang’ombe described this a “silent epidemic” eating through one of the densely populated regions in Central Kenya.
The three conducted the study on birth defects in Kiambu County between 2014 and 2018.
“There was a steady annual increase in the prevalence estimates of various physical defects in children during the study period,” the study indicated.
The number of defects grew from 44 per 100,000 births in 2014 to 205 in 2018, according to the study.
Although hypospadias was the most common birth defect among boys in Kiambu, epispadias—another reproductive organ defect was equally common. Epispadias is a condition where the urethra opening is on the top of the penis rather than the tip.
The two conditions are linked to obese mothers who deliver at the age of 35 and above and were possibly exposed to harmful chemicals such as pesticides, industrial chemicals, and hormones while carrying the pregnancy.
The researchers noted that obese women in Kiambu could be highly vulnerable to these chemicals given that the county is an agricultural area.
“These findings point to possible increased exposure of women of reproductive age to teratogenic chemicals, metals and preconception obesity,” suggests the study.