Vesicoureteral Reflux (VUR) | Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of vesicoureteral reflux?

Children who have vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) may not feel sick, because VUR typically does not present symptoms. VUR is most often diagnosed after a child has experienced a urinary tract infection (UTI) accompanied with a fever. Some children are also diagnosed shortly after birth if they had hydronephrosis (fluid in the kidneys) on their prenatal (before birth) ultrasounds.

Common symptoms of UTI in children include:

  • fever
  • pain or burning with urination
  • strong or foul odor to the urine
  • sudden onset of frequent urination or wetting accidents
  • abdominal or flank pain (between the hip and rib)

What causes vesicoureteral reflux?

The cause of VUR is unknown, however there is a strong genetic component. Although no specific genes have been identified, VUR is common among children and siblings of parents with VUR. During infancy, VUR is more frequently in boys. In older children, VUR is more frequently diagnosed in girls.

VUR may also occur as a result of these less common issues:

  • abnormal bladder function, due to nerve or spinal cord problems, such as spina bifida
  • urinary-tract abnormalities, such as posterior urethral valves, bladder exstrophy, ureterocele or ureter duplication
  • dysfunctional voiding (bladder and bowel problems, including accidents, frequent urination or constipation)