“My day had started ordinarily enough, but it took a dramatic twist suddenly. I’d just finished a late lunch when I noticed Kyne, my 3-month-old baby boy, fussing while my dad was carrying him. At first, I thought that Kyne was just in a cranky mood but I quickly grew uneasy at his incessant fussing, so I decided to take over carrying him from my dad.
“This was when I realised that Kyne’s arms looked blue-black. My dad suggested that Kyne’s arm could have been at an awkward position, so his blood might not have been flowing properly, but when I changed his diaper, I was alarmed to find out that Kyne’s entire body had also turn blue-black, too!
“What happened next was a blur as I grabbed my bag and ran to the nearest paediatrician. I was afraid that Kyne would lose consciousness, so I kept talking to him as I dashed past strangers, traffic lights, void decks, through the park and the playground. But Kyne kept his eyes closed the whole time, which only made me more and more anxious.
“Upon reaching the clinic, I could barely manage to utter the words, ‘Please. Let. Me. See. The. Doctor. My. Baby. Is. Turning. Blue-Black...’ while gasping for air. Clutching my blue-black and seemingly lifeless baby in my arms, my tears kept welling up in my eyes while I tried to fill in the registration form.
“When the nurses took Kyne’s temperature, I was shocked to find out that he was running a fever with a temperature of 38.8 deg C. The doctor who’d come out to take a look at Kyne suspected that he’d had a seizure and would need to be admitted.
“After the doctor did a quick check on Kyne in his office, he dashed off a referral note and told me to bring Kyne to KK Women and Children’s Hospital immediately. Fortunately Kyne’s body started to turn pink again while we were on the way to KK Hospital. I found out later from the doctors that he’d turned blue-black because of seizures resulting from his high fever.
“After he was warded, his doctor did not want to prescribe paracetamol as his 3-month-old kidneys had not yet matured. This meant that my son had to fight the high fever on his own. We could only sponge him down and let him rest on a cooling pad to reduce the fever.
“As Kyne’s doctors were worried that he’d have a relapse and continue to have seizures, they conducted a series of tests on him. When the preliminary urine-screening test showed that Kyne had a high white-blood-cell count, the doctor suspected that he could have contracted a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). They then took another urine sample, as well as a sample of his blood, for testing — they wanted to find out which bacteria had caused the infection, and also, if it had gotten into his blood stream. On diagnosing the exact cause of his infection, the doctor gave Kyne a dose of antibiotics.
“Kyne’s doctor later told us that E coli bacteria had been present in my son’s urine and a sudden onset of high fever was common in UTI cases. Though the blood test was negative — Kyne was warded and was tested again after 48 hours to ensure that he was cleared of any blood infection. My heart broke to see my fragile baby going through numerous tests and being fitted with drips. I also kept wondering if there was something I had or had not done that had caused Kyne to suffer from the UTI.
“After his discharge three days later, I had to administer a low daily dose of antibiotics on Kyne for another 9 months, so as to prevent a recurrence of the UTI. We also had to bring him in for a renal ultrasound and a scan to check if the UTI had damaged Kyne’s kidneys.
“After six months of waiting, we were filled with relief to receive news that Kyne had no scarring in his kidneys and zero bladder abnormalities. The doctor also told me that I’d done a good job bringing Kyne to the hospital as soon as I realised he was turning blue-black, so that he could treated immediately for the UTI.
“I am thankful that Kyne has not only made a full recovery from UTI, he has gone back to being my bubbly baby. I have learnt not to take a healthy baby for granted. I am so relieved that the whole frightening saga is behind us.”
UTI: The Facts
Dr Chong Siew Le, a nephrology consultant in the Department of Paediatrics at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, has details on Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
• What is it?
It is an infection that affects the urinary tract, which is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. When it affects the bladder, it is called cystitis and when it affects the kidney, it is called pyelonephritis. Cystitis can give rise to painful and frequent urination, and the urge to urinate with or without lower abdominal pain. The urine may appear cloudy as a result of excessive white blood cells, or may appear red when there are excessive red blood cells in the urine. Symptoms of pyelonephritis include fever and flank pain, with or without symptoms of cystitis. However, in a very young patient, particularly before he can speak, the UTI symptoms can be very vague or nonspecific, such as fever without any other symptoms.
• What causes a UTI?
Bacteria is the main cause of UTI, though occasionally, viruses can cause the infection. The great majority of the bacteria that cause UTI are usually gut organisms such as E coli.
• Is UTI common in children?
UTI is a common childhood illness, and worldwide, it has been reported to affect about 2 per cent of boys and 8 per cent of girls by the age of 7.
• How does one care for children with UTI?
UTI is easily treated with a course of antibiotics. As a proportion of children with UTI may have underlying abnormalities of the urinary tract that predispose them to the infection, doctors will recommend that children with UTI get regular follow-up checks.
• How does one prevent a UTI?
For young children who are not toilet-trained, parents are advised to change their soiled diaper as soon as possible, and to clean the perineum from the front to the back. For children who are toilet-trained, they are advised to empty their bladder at regular intervals. Children with a history of urinary tract infection should avoid constipation or seek treatment for their underlying constipation and lastly, ensure that they take all the medication prescribed by the treating physician to prevent recurrence of this infection.
This story was first published in the December 2015 issue of Mother & Baby Singapore.
Lim Ting, 33, lives in Sengkang with her husband Eric Chen, 37, and sons, Kyne, 2, and Kyle, 6.