Objectives. Urinary incontinence is common in healthy women and occurs with increased frequency in adult women with chronic lung disease, including cystic fibrosis (CF). This study aimed to determine the prevalence, severity, and impact on daily life of urinary incontinence in female adolescents with CF.

Methods. An interviewer-administered questionnaire was conducted with females who were aged 12 years and older and attend the CF Clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

Results. Fifty-five (96%) of 57 eligible adolescents (age: 12–19 years) participated. Twenty-six (47%) reported ever having been incontinent of urine; 12 (22%) reported daytime incontinence twice a month or more. Median age of onset of incontinence was 13 years (range: 7–16 years). No relationship was seen with age, lung function, body mass index, or menarchal status. Coughing and laughing were the most commonly reported precipitants (affecting 84% and 68%, respectively). Of those with incontinence once a year or more, 42% reported that it sometimes prevented them from doing effective physiotherapy. Social life was affected by incontinence in approximately one third of respondents. Nearly half (42%) of affected adolescents had told no one, and only 2 had discussed the problem with their physician.

Conclusions. Urinary incontinence is common in female adolescents with CF and is not related to illness severity. Urinary incontinence has a negative impact on the performance of chest physiotherapy. Given the lack of adolescent report and knowledge of treatment availability, inquiry about symptoms of urinary incontinence should be part of the routine assessment of female adolescents with CF.

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