THOUSANDS of children in the UK are missing out on lifesaving treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs), experts have warned.
The common infection can lead to long-term kidney and bladder issues as well as sepsis – which in many cases can lead to death.
NHS guidance states that young people with long-term UTIs should be looked after by hospital specialists.
However, a charity was warned GPs are fobbing off sick kids and not referring them on, leaving many in constant pain forcing them to miss school.
A UTI is an infection of your bladder, kidneys or the tubes connected to them.
More than half of women in the UK – and a tenth of men – will experience at least one dreaded UTI at some point in life.
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And around one in 10 girls and one in 30 boys will have had a UTI by the age of 16 year.
In most cases it can be treated quickly with a short course of antibiotics, which destroys the bacteria that causes the problems.
But for some, this is ineffective and the infection returns and can linger for years.
At this stage, expert intervention is crucial – but many are not receiving it.
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In these cases, experts say that specialist intervention is crucial, as patients need an extended course of antibiotics.
A specialist may also prescribe drugs which can sterilise the urine in the bladder.
However, many GPs are reportedly unaware that children with UTIs require specialist treatment, according to the patient group Chronic Urinary Tract Infection Campaign.
Alison Pearce, a director of the patient group, told The Mail On Sunday: “We regularly hear from worried parents who have a child with a drug-resistant UTI who can’t get a referral.
“Some GPs have outdated views about these infections and don’t believe they need the attention of a specialist.
“We’re also worried about the number of parents who tell us they’ve got a referral from their GP only to find out there is no specialist who can see them.”
She added: “We believe there aren’t enough NHS doctors who specialise in UTIs in children. Even big hospitals don’t have the resources to treat these cases.”
Symptoms of a UTI in children
IT can be difficult to tell whether your child has a UTI, as the symptoms can be vague
General signs that may suggest your child is unwell include:
- a high temperature (fever)
- tiredness and lack of energy (lethargy)
- poor feeding
- not gaining weight properly
- in very young children, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
More specific signs that your child may have a UTI include:
- pain or a burning sensation when peeing
- needing to pee frequently
- deliberately holding in their pee
- a change in their normal toilet habits, such as wetting themselves or wetting the bed
- pain in their tummy (abdomen), side or lower back
- unpleasant-smelling pee
- blood in their pee
- cloudy pee