Good news on Urinary Tract Infections

Good news on Urinary Tract Infections:
UTI's in Childhood Cause no Harm to Adult Kidney Function

Over the last 50 years there has been a very disturbing idea put forward that urinary tract infections (UTI's) in children, given the right complications, could cause damage to kidneys that could cause kidney problems later in adult life.

This idea has fueled a great deal of worry and a lot of studies, the most uncomfortable of which is the VCUG, a test involving catheterization of the bladder.

The idea was based on the observation that children who have both a UTI and urinary reflux [this is when urine flows up to the bladder towards the kidneys, not just out of the bladder when one urinates] can develop scars in their kidneys, and that scars appear to be associated with the need for dialysis later in life.

The good news it that over the last year or so, important research has tested this idea, and found that it is not true.

Most recently, a very important study was reported in our lead journal, Pediatrics (128(5) Nov 2011, 840) where 1,576 cases of chronic renal disease in adults were reviewed.   In no instance could a clear connection to a UTI in childhood be linked to the cause of the adult chronic renal disease.  An accompanying editorial puts the matter very clearly:  "It's a Myth--UTI Does Not Cause Chronic Kidney Disease."

So now, we can safely say that a UTI is like most any other infection, worth treating to become more comfortable, but not an infection that puts one at risk later in life.

And, it means that the use of VCUG's in childhood is going to drop quite a bit, which is comforting news.

Bottom Line:
Urinary tract infections in children do not cause problems with kidney function later in life if the kidneys were normal to begin with.
UTI's should be diagnosed and treated to help your child feel better, not to prevent a danger.
If your child has UTI's that are severe or frequent enough to cause concern, a renal ultrasound is still a good idea to be sure the kidneys are normal, but the VCUG study will no longer be used routinely.

Dr. Arthur Lavin

*Disclaimer* The comments contained in this electronic source of information do not constitute and are not designed to imply that they constitute any form of individual medical advice. The information provided is purely for informational purposes only and not relevant to any person's particular medical condition or situation. If you have any medical concerns about yourself or your family please contact your physician immediately. In order to provide our patients the best uninfluenced information that science has to offer,we do not accept samples of drugs, advertising tchotchkes, money, food, or any item from outside vendors.

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