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Doctor's horror after discovering little girl's 'recurring UTI' is actually an STI

Doctor's horror after discovering little girl's 'recurring UTI' is actually an STI

A doctor has described a 'tough' encounter with a female patient 'under the age of six' who has an STI.

 Trigger warning: This article discusses sexual assault

A doctor has recounted the horrifying moment she discovered a young child with a suspected urinary tract infection (UTI) was actually a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Dr. Ijeoma Nnodim Opara posted a thread on Twitter on Tuesday (11 October) where she described meeting a young female patient ‘under the age of six’ that day who had ‘recurrent UTIs’.

The parent was ‘frustrated’ because their daughter had to be taken to the ER ‘multiple times this year’ for treatment when the symptoms started, but the antibiotics failed to work.

The little girl suffered from ‘belly pain, pain in urination, discharge, foul odour’ and when she was taken to the ER, she was prescribed with more antibiotics and sent home again, which became a recurring cycle.

Dr. Opara knew something was very wrong. “Vaginal discharge? Foul odour? UTI? Nope. Nope. That ain’t right,” she tweeted. “Okay, let’s consciously avoid anchoring bias and THINK. When is a ‘UTI’ not a UTI?

“When it’s an STI.”

Describing the situation as ‘my nightmare’ because she is also a mum, Dr. Opara described feeling her heart ‘thundering’ in her chest as she tried to relay the heart wrenching news to the girl’s mum.

“An itty bitty chocolate muffin under the age of six. (Intentionally not specifying age/identifiers) My heart is thundering in my chest as I gently prod the child’s parent.”

She added in a follow-up tweet: “This is my nightmare as I’m a mom of itty bitty chocolate muffins too. And this one looks just like them. What could have changed in 1 year that all of a sudden an otherwise healthy child is sprouting ‘UTIs’ (Urinary Tract Infection) all over the place???

“Not responding to all the antibiotics in the local ER? Constipation? No. Bubble baths? No. Known genitourinary anatomic anomalies? No. Foreign…body?

The young girl had multiple trips to the ER.
Wavebreakmedia Ltd IP-210301 / Alamy Stock Photo

She also recalled the difficult conversation she had with the mum. “’Parent, is it possible that someone touched little baby child in their genital area?’”


In the next tweet Dr. Opara explains how breaking news like this ‘never gets easier’.

“Last year.

“Soon after when these symptoms started.



“I’m weak as my head hangs low on my chest.

“This never gets easier. Sending STI tests on a child is supposed to be a never event.”

Towards the end of the thread, which has received more than 10,000 likes for each of the 11 tweets, Dr. Opara thanked her teachers who taught her ‘to always be vigilant against heuristic errors’ and ‘cognitive biases that compromise one’s ability to make correct diagnoses’.

“To take time and pay attention,” she said.

Dr. Opara had to break the news to the girl's parent.
Yuri Arcurs / Alamy Stock Photo

“To ask questions gently, lovingly, & explain why it’s important.

“To always be developing a differential diagnosis. To know when the math is not mathing [sic] & to bring my own calculator & do my own math – because it can mean the difference between someone’s life & death; relief & suffering; oppression & freedom.

“[And] often that someone looks like me. Like my mama, my papa, my partner, cousins, aunty, uncle, grand people. Like my kids. Thankfully, justice prevailed & the perpetrator is doing time. But this baby. Their parent. Will have to carry the wounds forever.

“Today is a tough one.”

You can follow Dr. Opara here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact The Survivor’s Trust for free on 08088 010 818, or through their website

Featured Image Credit: Twitter Yuri Arcurs / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Health, Parenting, Real Life