THOUSANDS of children in the UK are missing out on life-saving treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs), experts warn.
The common infection can lead to long-term kidney and bladder problems, as well as sepsis, which can lead to death in many cases.
NHS guidance says young people with long-term urinary tract infections should be cared for by hospital specialists.
But a charity has been warned that GPs are brushing off sick children and not referring them, leaving many in constant pain and missing school.
A urinary tract infection 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 urinary tract infection at some point in their lives.
And about one in ten girls and one in 30 boys have a urinary tract infection by the age of 16.
In most cases, the condition can be treated quickly with a short course of antibiotics that kill the bacteria causing the symptoms.
However, for some this is ineffective and the infection returns and can last for years.
At this stage, expert intervention is crucial – but many don’t receive it.
In these cases, experts say, specialist intervention is crucial as patients require a longer course of antibiotics.
A specialist may also prescribe medications that can sterilize urine in the bladder.
However, many GPs are reportedly unaware that children with urinary tract infections need specialist care, according to the patient group Chronic Urinary Tract Infection Campaign.
Alison Pearce, a patient group leader, told The Mail On Sunday: “We regularly hear from concerned parents whose child with a drug-resistant urinary tract infection is not getting a referral.”
“Some GPs have outdated views about these infections and do not believe they require specialist attention.
“We are also concerned about the number of parents who tell us they have a referral from their GP, only to find there is no specialist who can treat them.”
She added: “We believe there are not enough NHS doctors who specialize in urinary tract infections in children. Even large hospitals do not have the resources to treat these cases.”
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection in children
It can be difficult to tell whether your child has a urinary tract infection because symptoms can be vague
Common signs that may indicate your child is not feeling well include:
- a high temperature (fever)
- Fatigue and lack of energy (lethargy)
- poor diet
- not gaining weight properly
- in very young children, yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
More specific signs that your child may have a urinary tract infection include:
- Pain or burning when peeing
- having to pee frequently
- intentionally holding back her pee
- a change in their normal toilet habits, such as: E.g. enuresis or bedwetting
- Pain in the stomach, side or lower back
- unpleasant smelling pee
- Blood in her piss
- cloudy pee