Quality of Life in Children who have Urinary Incontinence

The goals of a recent research article were to determine the degree to which lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) are related to quality of life (QOL) and also the reliability of parents to accurately report on QOL disturbance in children who have urinary incontinence (UI). Outcomes tools utilized in the study include the Dysfunctional Voiding Symptom Score (DVSS) and the Pediatric Urinary Incontinence QOL tool (PIN-Q). Parents of forty children ages 5-11 (10 males and 30 females) and diagnosed with non-neurogenic daytime wetting completed the outcomes tools and responded to open-ended questions about incontinence and QOL. All children had daytime wetting, more than 50% of them had recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI's), and 89% reported urinary urgency.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK), night-time wetting affects 30% of children who are 4 years of age, with the condition resolving in about 15% of children each year. Additionally, wetting at night persists in about 10% of 7 year-old, 3% of 12 year-olds, and 1% of 18 year-olds. A summary handout about Urinary Incontinence in Children is available here.

The study found that parents were reliable in reporting quality of life and symptoms in their children, as the outcomes scores completed were not different between them. (I would point out that nearly all parents involved were the patient's mothers; and it may be interesting to know more information about how the responsibility of managing urinary incontinence in children is shared among parents or caregivers.) Confirmed in the research was the knowledge that urinary dysfunction in children causes significant quality of life impact.

The subjective complaints of how some of the children avoid activities such as sleepovers, or worry that classmates can see or smell leakage is heartbreaking. The parents' complaints of feeling frustrated and angry about the issue is also understandable as there is a variable amount of support and understanding that each family has about how to manage the incontinence. A child's teacher or friends will also display a wide variety of supporting or sabotaging reactions that can add dramatic increases in stress. The authors point out that there is a significant "…need to improve teacher education and make attempts to engage the educational system to help these children."

If you would like to learn how to be a part of the solution, you can attend the Pediatric Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction continuing education course taking place in August in South Carolina. It's the last chance to take the course this year!

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