Overactive bladder in children

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Overactive bladder (OAB) is a ubiquitous syndrome that is defined by urinary urgency with, or without urinary incontinence. OAB is observed in all parts of the world, with a prevalence of 5–12% in children (5–10 years of age) and a prevalence of 0.5% in older adolescents (16–18 years of age). Published data indicate that around a third of children with OAB are likely to become adults with similar complaints. Studies in children and in adults with OAB indicate that these individuals are more likely to also have anxiety, depression and attention deficit problems, and that appropriate treatment of these comorbidities can often improve the patient's OAB symptoms. Furthermore, data from twin studies and familial surveys seem to indicate a genetic component of OAB. Pharmacological treatments of OAB in children have improved in the past 5 years, moving beyond anticholinergic agents and including the off-label use of α-blockers, β3-agonists and intravesical botulinum toxin. Use of several different electrical stimulation techniques is also effective, both as first-line treatments, and for patients with treatment-refractory symptoms. Overall the outlook of children with OAB seems to be improving, with a greater understanding of the pathophysiology of this syndrome. Treatment modalities that target the source of the underlying problem, especially in children, are likely to provide the best patient outcomes.

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