Children, even infants, can have a vaginal discharge and it can be caused by cancer, sexual abuse and other conditions.
The first thing a doctor needs to do is check for the presence of a foreign body, as this can cause a discharge.
The Journal of Pediatric & Adolescent Gynecology (Oct. 2002) cites a chart review of 41 premenstrual girls who were seen for vaginal discharge at a single hospital between June 1996 and December 2001.
The age range of these patients was three months old to 11 years, with an average age of six years.
In four of the cases, the foreign object was tissue paper. The study authors point out that a foreign object is not always visible upon clinical inspection, and that an imaging tool, such as a vaginoscopy, is necessary to rule out foreign objects.
During the vaginoscopies the patients were placed under anesthesia.
A foreign object isn’t the only cause of vaginal discharge in children. In this study, severe dermatitis was one cause. Other causes were:
• Lymphatic duct chylous drainage (one patient)
• Vulvovaginitis (eleven patients)
• Malingering (false reporting by one patient)
In the four cases of foreign body, the discharge was bloody or brown.
Cancer As Cause of
Vaginal Discharge in Children
A paper in the Journal of Urology (Dec. 2006) cites six cases of cancer causing vaginal discharge in children younger than six years that were diagnosed at the Department of Urology, Children’s Hospital, Denver, Colorado. The cancers were rhabdomyosarcoma and endodermal sinus tumor.
Two other patients had benign vaginal mullerian papillomas.
Summary of Causes of
Vaginal Discharge in Young Kids
• Foreign objects
• Sexual abuse
• Poor hygiene