Thousands of Children Missing Out on Lifesaving Treatment for UTIs

Thousands of Children Missing Out on Lifesaving Treatment for UTIs

Experts in the UK have issued a warning that thousands of children are not receiving lifesaving treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs, which can lead to kidney and bladder issues as well as sepsis, have the potential to be fatal if left untreated.

According to NHS guidance, children with long-term UTIs should be referred to hospital specialists for proper care. However, a charity has expressed concerns that many general practitioners (GPs) are failing to refer sick children, resulting in ongoing pain and missed school days.

A UTI is an infection in the bladder, kidneys, or connecting tubes. More than half of UK women and one-tenth of men will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime. Additionally, by the age of 16, approximately one in 10 girls and one in 30 boys will have encountered a UTI.

In most cases, UTIs can be easily treated with a short course of antibiotics. However, some individuals experience recurrent infections that do not respond to treatment, causing the infection to persist for years. For these cases, specialist intervention is paramount, but many affected individuals are not receiving the necessary care.

Specialists may prescribe an extended course of antibiotics or medications to sterilize the urine in the bladder. Regrettably, many GPs seem to be unaware that children with UTIs require specialist treatment. The patient group Chronic Urinary Tract Infection Campaign has highlighted that some GPs hold outdated views and believe that these infections do not necessitate specialist attention.

There is also concern over the scarcity of NHS doctors who specialize in UTIs in children, with even large hospitals lacking the resources to address these cases. This shortage contributes to the difficulties faced by parents seeking a referral for their children.

It is challenging to determine whether a child has a UTI due to the vague nature of the symptoms. General signs of illness may include high fever, vomiting, fatigue, irritability, poor feeding, and failure to gain weight properly. More specific indications of a UTI in children include pain or a burning sensation during urination, frequent urination, intentional retention of urine, changes in normal toilet habits (such as bedwetting), abdominal or back pain, foul-smelling or bloody urine, and cloudy urine.

The lack of access to appropriate treatment for children with UTIs is a cause for concern. Further efforts are needed to increase awareness among GPs and ensure that specialist care is available to affected children.


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