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When Is It Time For Your Child To See a Pediatric Urologist?

University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children'sExperts in Children's Health
young girl hugs teddy bear that sits on toilet

As a parent, it can be difficult to know when your child’s bladder problems need medical attention. For example, is your son’s bedwetting just a phase or a sign of something more serious? When are your daughter’s urinary tract infections something to worry about?

A pediatric urologist can help parents sort out these questions.

“As specialists, we are trained to look at the big picture. Many urologic problems, such as urinary incontinence, are just part of the story,” says UH Rainbow pediatric urologist Jessica Hannick, MD. “We help identify and treat any possible underlying medical issues, as well as other factors contributing to the problem.”

Here are some of the most common reasons why parents seek care for their children from the Pediatric Urology Center at UH Rainbow, Dr. Hannick says.

Bedwetting and Bladder Issues

Potty training is not always easy. When it does not go smoothly, how do you know whether your child has a medical problem or is just a late bloomer?

“Every child is different. But as a general rule, if your son or daughter is not dry through the night by age six, you may want to have a consultation with a pediatric urologist,” Dr. Hannick says. “You should also see a specialist if your child is suddenly having new urinary problems day or night after being previously potty trained.”

There are many reasons bedwetting or urinary incontinence can occur, Dr. Hannick says, from the stress of a life change, such as the pandemic, a recent move, or a new family member, or even a recent or recurrent urinary tract infection.

“There may not be any problem at all, but it can be reassuring to rule out any serious diagnoses,” she says.

Urinary Tract Infections in Children

A urinary tract infection (UTI), which can affect babies and children of both genders can be treated by a pediatrician. But when your child has experienced multiple UTIs, it may be time to see a pediatric urologist.

“Recurrent urinary tract infections may be a sign that something more is going on. For example, your child may have an anatomic abnormality contributing to the infections,” Dr. Hannick says. “It is also common for children with recurrent UTIs to have some kind of abnormal voiding behaviors, aka voiding dysfunction.”

This is often associated with urine leakage or accidents, and children may have issues with their bowel function as well. Voiding dysfunction is not necessarily under voluntary, conscious control by the child. It is important to identify and treat the condition, however, which can be very frustrating for both patients and their parents.

Congenital Issues

Pediatric urologists also perform surgery to treat a wide range of birth defects involving organs inside the body, like the kidneys, bladder and reproductive organs, and problems with the genitalia in boys and girls.

The primary surgical goals include allowing a child to achieve or maintain urologic (i.e. kidney and genital/sexual) function, with an additional focus on providing the best cosmetic outcome possible, Dr. Hannick says.

Conditions Pediatric Urologists Treat

Some of the many issues treated by pediatric urologists include:

  • Bedwetting and bladder dysfunction
  • Abnormalities of the kidneys, ureters and bladder
  • Abnormalities of the genitals in boys (penis, testicles) and in girls (labia, vagina)
  • Hernias, hydroceles
  • Kidney stones
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Blood in the urine
  • Prenatally diagnosed urinary tract abnormalities – prenatal counseling

Related Links

The knowledgeable pediatric urology team at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital understands the sensitive nature of urological conditions in children. As a nationally recognized center of excellence, the UH Rainbow pediatric urologists provide a high level of expertise with an emphasis on compassionate, family-centered care for children of all ages. Learn more about pediatric urology services at UH Rainbow.