Urine Blockage in Newborns
The urinary tract consists of
We rely on our kidneys and urinary system to keep fluids and natural chemicals in our bodies balanced. While a baby is developing in the mother's womb, much of that balancing is handled by the mother's placenta. The baby's kidneys begin to produce urine at about 10 to 12 weeks after conception, but the mother's placenta continues to do most of the work until the last few weeks of the pregnancy. Wastes and excess fluid are removed from the baby's body through the umbilical cord. The baby's urine is released into the amniotic sac and becomes part of the amniotic fluid. This fluid plays a role in the baby's lung development.
Sometimes, a birth defect in the urinary tract will block the flow of urine in an unborn baby. As a result, urine backs up and causes the ureters and kidneys to swell. Swelling in the kidneys is called hydronephrosis. Swelling in the ureters is called hydroureter.
Hydronephrosis is the most common problem found during ultrasound examination of babies in the womb. The swelling may be barely detectable or very noticeable. The results of hydronephrosis may be mild or severe, but the long-term outcome for the child's health cannot always be judged by the severity of swelling. Urine blockage may damage the developing kidneys and reduce their ability to filter. The blockage may also raise the risk that the child will develop a urinary tract infection (UTI). Recurring UTIs can lead to more permanent kidney damage. In the most severe cases of urine blockage, the amniotic sac is so reduced that the lack of fluid threatens the baby's lung development.
Types of Defects in the Urinary Tract
Hydronephrosis can result from many types of defects in the urinary tract. Doctors use specific terms to describe the type and location of the blockage.
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