babies who urinate or defecate in their diapers and wear them for too long are at high risk of developing urinary tract infection, nappy rash and others

Caution: Wet Diapers May Cause UTIS and Others

Medical Specialist report that babies who urinate or defecate in their diapers and wear them for too long are at high risk of developing urinary tract infection, nappy rash and skin irritability.

These specialists noted that due to the prevailing hardship and rising cost of diapers in the country, many mothers now leave their babies with diapers filled with urine and faeces for too long, warning that such practice exposes them to bacterial infections.

Furthermore, the average price of diapers for babies that contain 136 pieces, now cost N45, 000, instead of N9, 800.

This development has made most mothers who cannot afford it, buy those packaged in twos and threes for only an outing while using clean pieces of cloth at home.

According to an online medical portal, WebMD, a urinary tract infection, is an infection in any part of the urinary system, including the kidney, bladder, ureters, and urethra, which gives a burning feeling when urinating.

Though diapers give some level of convenience and comfort, physicians advised mothers to go back to using napkins if the cost of diapers has gone beyond their reach, rather than expose their babies to infections by leaving them with wet pampers for long.

An Epidemiologist and Professor of Public Health at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Adebayo Onajole, affirmed that not changing diapers in time can lead to UTI in both under-five children and above.

He said UTI and nappy rash can affect not only babies but also adults who require all-around care and assistance and must wear diapers.

The Don said, “UTI can affect babies under five and even adults. When diapers are wet, it allows for the growth of bacteria and this becomes a problem. This has also defeated the essence of diapers because they are worn to keep the perineal region dry.

“The essence of diapers is to soak up urine and keep the area dry, but because its cost has gone up astronomically, mothers who can’t afford it tend to overuse it. So, you can see a baby using one wet diaper for hours. This is not healthy. It’s harmful to the baby.

“This can also lead to other ascending infections in a child. It’s called an ascending infection because it comes from the outside and moves upwards into the body.

“You know that urine contains ammonia and when it stays too long on a baby’s tender skin, it affects the baby and may cause skin irritability. It can cause the baby’s skin to peel and look like bedsores.”

Advising mothers who may not be able to afford diapers, Onajole advised them to use napkins, adding, “This is even better because it would be washed with detergent to kill the germs and put under the sun to dry. Using napkins has its own challenges too; the labor involved in keeping them clean.

“During our days, it is napkin and when it is wet, it is removed and washed. However, detergent to wash the napkins is now expensive. We need to tell these women in the language they understand so that they will know the consequences and dangers of allowing their babies to wear the same wet diapers for too long,” Onajole added.

Corroborating his views, a Consultant Pediatrician at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Professor Afolabi Lesi, said it’s not healthy for a baby to wear wet diapers for too long, saying that ammonia in the urine can lead to skin reactions and rash on the baby.

He said, “Though this can be treated, it can be prevented by prompt changing of wet diapers. I can understand that the high price of diapers is pushing mothers to think of ways to maximize.

“We were using napkins before diapers came, but the only problem is the washing associated with its usage. You need the manpower to wash, clean, dry and iron. It is the World Health Organizations standard that you iron clothes spread in the sun to avoid infection.”

Lesi, a former Provost, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, said the manpower required to keep napkins clean has made diapers the favorable option for mothers.

Advising mothers on options available in the absence of affordable pampers, he continued, “I am not going to put money in their pockets but the best option is still diapers in terms of convenience. However, if diapers become unaffordable, they should go back to what they were using before diapers instead of exposing their babies to infections.

“In any case, the recyclable and renewable napkin maybe even better but energy is required. It is a question of cost. Go back to napkins to decide what is convenient and expedient.

A study carried out by Tetsu Sugimura and his team, published in the National Library of Medicine to define the association between the frequency of changing diapers and urinary tract infection in infants, showed that often, diapers are not changed after infants pass urine.”

Titled, “Association between the frequency of disposable diaper changing and urinary tract infection in infants,’ the authors discovered that among infants wearing disposable diapers, there is an increased risk of UTI as the frequency of changing diapers decreases.

The study further noted that urinary tract infection is the most common cause of fever in children and can be caused by less frequent changes in disposable diapers

“While wearing a diaper, the perineal area becomes damp with urine, allowing bacteria to migrate from the anus to the external urethral orifice, causing infections,” the study added.