Medicine: Making Sure About Sex

A new test helps erase doubt

Though nature endows most people with sexual organs that are distinctly male or female, every so often it errs. On rare occasions, a child is born with ambiguous genitalia. In some cases, babies who look outwardly female also have rudimentary male organs—or have testes within their ovaries (a growth that frequently becomes cancerous). Other infants, at first appearing to be male, have small testes, are sterile, and later develop breasts and grow no facial hair.

Fortunately, this gender confusion can usually be corrected with sex-hormone therapy and delicate...

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