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Urine Blockage in Newborn Babies

The urinary tracts play a significant role in the drainage system of our body and include a pair of kidneys, a pair of ureters, a urinary bladder and a urethra

The kidneys filter out unwanted and toxic substances from the blood, and this passes through the ureters to the urinary bladder where it is stored, temporarily, until passed out through the urethra to outside. The amount of urine excreted by an average adult man is about 1-1.5 L in a day. The amount of urine production varies with age, and it is less in children.

Excretion in fetus

During prenatal development of the baby inside the uterus of the mother, the waste materials produced by the baby is carried by the placenta and excreted out through the mother’s blood. This process happens until the last few weeks of pregnancy. The wastes are then removed from the body of the baby by an umbilical cord into the amniotic fluid.

Causes of urine blockage in newborn babies

There are several complications that might occur during pregnancy due to which newborn babies might be detected with urine blockage.

  • In some newborns, the ureters don’t develop fully during prenatal development in mother’s womb. This blocks the urine from getting discharged. This condition is known as vesicoureteral reflux. Usually, it affects one kidney and ureter, however, both may also get affected.
  • Ureteropelvic junction obstruction is caused when the ureter at its point of junction at the kidney gets obstructed and this the kidney swells up. Usually, one kidney is affected.
  • Some newborns may be affected with Bladder Outlet Obstruction where the opening of the bladder is obstructed. The common type of BOO is Pelvic urethral valve which affects newborn boys where an abnormal fold in the ureter obstructs the free flow of urine this leading to swelling of the whole urinary tract.
  • Prune Belly Syndrome is another birth defect which occurs among boys where the abdominal muscles don’t develop properly, the ureters and bladder swell and both the testicles fail to descend to the scrotum.
  • Congenital heart defects may also lead to several defects in urinary tracts of newborns babies and pose a great risk to the overall health of the baby.

Symptoms of urine blockage in newborns

Newborn babies having urine blockage may have the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Lost appetite
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Foul smelling urine
  • Frequent urination in small amounts

After-birth complication of urine blockage

The consequences of urine blockage may be mild to severe. The newborn may develop damaged kidneys and lose the ability to filter out unwanted substances. It may also make the child vulnerable to Urinary Tract Infection and also lead to permanent kidney damage.

Diagnosis of urine blockage

  • Before birth:

Ultrasound during pregnancy can detect the abnormal swelling of kidney and thus, the urinary blockage can be detected. Amniocentesis can also help detect the abnormalities in the fetus. A small amount of amniotic fluid is taken out from the womb and the cells of the fluid are tested for any birth defects.

  • After birth:

Ultrasound is also effective in newborns to detect any urinary blockage.

X-ray of the kidneys and the bladder can reveal any blockage in the urinary tract.

Treatment of urine blockage in newborns

Treatment of this condition in newborns depends upon the severity of the blockage. Urinary blockages which may be life-threatening need immediate medical attention. Surgery of fetus is done by inserting a shunt to the fetal ureters to release urine into the amniotic fluid. Fetal surgery carries a great risk of danger to the baby and is done only under severe circumstances. Catheterization and stents are also used to open the blockage.

Prevention of urinary blockage

Mother’s need to maintain a healthy diet plan for the good health of the baby. Nutrition is one way to prevent your fetus from urinary blockage.


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