Cranberry Commonly Used to Treat Kids' UTIs
Parents Often Treat Children's Urinary Tract Infections With Cranberry
July 19, 2005 -- Parents frequently give their children cranberry juice as
an alternative treatment for recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), but
they rarely tell their pediatrician about it.
A new study shows that nearly one in three parents have given their children
cranberry juice or other cranberry products to treat or prevent recurrent UTIs,
but less than one in four told their pediatrician about this practice.
"It has become clear that parents frequently use cranberry for
therapeutic purposes -- occasionally in lieu of standard therapy," says
researcher Kathi Kemper, MD, a pediatrician at Brenner Children's Hospital, in
a news release.
Cranberry products are widely used to prevent UTIs in
adults and are considered generally safe.
But researchers say their results show that new studies are needed to
determine the safety and effectiveness of using cranberry products to treat
healthy children with recurrent urinary tract infections.
Clandestine Cranberry Use
Researchers say UTIs are the most common serious bacterial illness treated
by pediatricians. In children who suffer from recurrent urinary tract
infections, the long-term complications may include high blood pressure or
Many doctors recommend treatment with antibiotics to prevent recurrent UTIs
in children at risk. However, researchers say it's hard to get kids to take all
their medicine. Using antibiotics as a preventive measure can lead to
antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which makes it more difficult to treat other
illnesses. Many of the antibiotics used to treat resistant bacteria can cause
In the study, researchers surveyed 117 parents of children treated at a
pediatric nephrology (kidney treatment) clinic about their use of cranberry
products in treating recurrent urinary tract infections. Their children ranged
in age from 6 months to 18 years.
The results showed that 74% of the parents had heard of using cranberry
products to treat UTIs, and 29% had given them to their children. Most of the
parents used cranberry juice and a few used cranberry pills or dried
About half of those who had given cranberry products to their children used
them to prevent or treat urinary tract infections. The other half cited a
variety of other reasons for using cranberry therapies, such as "flushing
out the kidneys" or when their child seemed to be having problems with
Of the parents who used cranberry therapies on their children, less than one
in four discussed it with their pediatrician.
Most parents had heard about using cranberry products for treating UTIs from
the media, friends, or family, and 12% were advised by a health professional to
The results of the study appear in the current issue of the journal
Urine infections affect millions of people each year. They are treated with
antibiotics that fight the most common cause of urine infection -- a bacteria
called E. coli. Yet doctors may suggest treatments like cranberries, which
parents can take on their own to prevent infections. Though cranberry juice is
the form of cranberries most widely used, other cranberry products include
cranberry powder in hard or soft gelatin capsules.
The way cranberries work to prevent urine infection is not completely
understood. It is believed that cranberries prevent bacteria from sticking on
the bladder wall, which inhibits their growth.