A cloacal abnormality is when the urinary tract, rectum and vagina develop together and form only one opening. This can occur while a baby is still developing in a mother's womb.
The cloaca is a tube-like structure that serves as a single vessel for the urinary tract, rectum and vagina to empty into during the early stages of a baby girl’s development.
Cloacal abnormalities are typically diagnosed right after birth, as the baby girl requires immediate treatment to help eliminate urine and stool. Cloacal abnormalities can sometimes be spotted on prenatal ultrasounds.
During the normal growth process, the baby’s urinary tract, rectum and vagina all separate to form their own openings. A cloacal abnormality occurs when these three openings fail to form, resulting in just one opening when the child is born.