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Urinary and Genital Disorders (Children)

Incontinence

01/13/2011

Question:

My daughter turned 12 in November 2010. She never had a problem before. I am wondering if this is normal for her to urinate in her pants occassionally. Is this unusual? Could this be because she might be getting ready to start her menstrual cycle?

Answer:

The causes of urinary incontinence in children can vary from frequent urinary tract infections, an overactive bladder, infrequent urination, incomplete bladder emptying, constipation, to even nerve damage from a spinal cord problem. Sometimes the treatment can be as simple as regular bladder emptying on a 2-3 hour schedule (timed voiding) along with increasing fluids (water is best) and taking a daily laxative (over the counter glycolax is a good option). A urinary tract infection would need to be treated with antibiotics. A thorough physical exam and urinalysis in the pediatrician's office is a good initial start. Often they will order a kidney and bladder ultrasound and a plain abdominal x-ray to check for any anatomical abnormalities. Sometimes a referral to a pediatric urologist is necessary if more complicated issues arise. If additional symptoms like new leg weakness or back pain is present, then prompt evaluation is necessary.

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Response by:

William Robert DeFoor, MD, MPH William Robert DeFoor, MD, MPH
Associate Professor of Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati