March 26, 2021

Pediatric Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction Reduced During Pandemic

Madison, Wisconsin - UW Health pediatric urologists have seen a decrease in cases of Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction (BBD) – issues with bowel movements or urinating – in children during the pandemic, which will have positive long-term impacts for kids.

UW Health pediatric urologist Dr. Walid Farhat says this is good news and an opportunity to raise awareness for this serious but very treatable condition in children.

"Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction has become very common over the last 70 years for several reasons," said Dr. Farhat. "More parents were working out of the house, kids were out of the home for longer, diets have come to include more fast and processed foods, and even the use of devices like tablets or video games has kept kids from regular bathroom breaks."

BBD is very common in children and can have serious psychological and physical effects. Wetting accidents in school-aged children can cause major stress and if left untreated, they can also lead to bladder and kidney problems for adults.

However, during the pandemic, families have been home together more often, with kids eating more home cooked meals. Children have more regular access to private restrooms, allowing parents to monitor bathroom schedules and change diapers more immediately. All these factors have helped drive the number of BBD cases down.

Other tips from UW Health experts:

  • Good nutrition, hydration, good bathroom posture, fiber intake and being active decrease instances of constipation.

  • "Bladder and bowel training," or encouraging regular use of the bathroom at timed intervals, is good for this common entity.

  • Avoid "the 5 Cs," that can cause bladder irritants: caffeine, chocolate, citrus, carbonation and food colorings.