Are schools in the city failing to toilet-train their tots? Amidst an increased incidence of urinary tract infections (UTI) among young kids, city-based paediatricians and psychologists have raised this question.
According to paediatricians in the city, the numbers of children contracting the painful infection has almost doubled recently.
The infection is predominant among small children, mostly girls. Schools claim that the infection is spreading because the young students fail to express themselves when nature calls. Parents, however, claim that schoolteachers are to blame, as they deny their students timely visits to the restroom.
Dr Sameer Dalwai, developmental paediatrician and director of New Horizon Child Development Centre, (NHCDC) said, “There is a genuine absence of toilet training culture in schools. This leads to UTI, and psychological trauma from other problems like bed-wetting, school phobia, insecurity and low self-esteem. We understand that these issues are very crucial and we need a comprehensive dialogue between various stakeholders like parents, schools and the government.”
Echoing Dalwai’s sentiments, Dr Paras Kothari, another pediatrician from Sion hospital said, “No data or percentage has been received yet. But it is true that cases of UTI have increased among kids. If earlier we used to treat one to two children with UTI in a day, we now have four. This happens because of the teachers – for instance, a teacher handling a class of 40 students may not want to allow one child to go to the toilet, fearing that all other kids will make similar demands. In this case the school should give two recesses in a day.” Unable to control the urge, kids end up relieving themselves in the classrooms or on their way home, and this helps the spread of infection.
Amita Katyal, principal of Pawar Public School, Kandivli (West), said, “There are many factors that may be causing UTI among young children. To begin with, children should be-toilet trained at home. If they are soiling themselves in school, it may be because they are too young to express themselves to their teachers. It is not because teachers are not giving them permission. On the other hand, schools should also have as many toilets as they can on each floor. We have approximately 100 toilets in our school.”
Aarti Mehta, (name changed), parent from a school in the central suburbs, said, “I saw my four-year-old son with wet pants after he reached home from school. I asked him why he didn’t tell his teacher that he wanted to go to the restroom. My son said that the teacher refused to let him go, after which he kept mum. He was afraid of asking her again. This may lead to UTI among kids.”
Rehana Sheikh, another parent from a school in the central suburbs, said, “I remember that a child was not cleaned properly after defecating in the school toilet, as the ayah refused to help him. I wonder what trauma the child must have experienced, being made to sit for 45 minutes in that state and being cleaned only after her guardian came to school. This affects not only their mental health but also their physical health.”
U for UTI
Urinary Tract Infection is a bacterial infection that occurs in the urinary tract, which consists of the kidneys, the bladder and the urethra. An infection occurs when bacteria sneaks into the urethra from the skin around the child’s bottom and the genitals. The bacterium then causes inflammation at any point along the tract.