Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Babies and children with urinary tract abnormalities may experience frequent urinary tract infections requiring special attention. Certain toilet-training behaviors, such as constipation and holding urine, can also lead to infections.
Determining the infection cause can prevent more serious complications, such as kidney infections that can lead to kidney scarring.
UTIs usually can be treated with antibiotics. After a few doses, children may appear much better, but it may take several days for symptoms to go away completely.
We may recommend additional tests to check for urinary tract abnormalities once the infection clears.
Urinary Tract Infections
As many as 6% of girls and 2% of boys develop urinary tract infections (UTIs). Normal urine is sterile and contains no bacteria. However, even under normal conditions bacteria cover the skin and are present in large numbers in the rectal area and within bowel movements. Bacteria may get into the urinary tract and travel up the urethra into the bladder. When this occurs, bacteria multiply. Unless the body gets rid of the bacteria, they can cause an UTI.
- Bladder infection (cystitis) – Inflammation, swelling and pain of the bladder
- Kidney infection (pyelonephritis) – Occurs when bacteria travel up from the bladder through the ureters and infect the kidneys. Kidney infections are more serious than bladder infections
- Linings of the bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys become red and irritated
- Painful, frequent urination
- Urine with a foul odor
- Urinary accidents, and/or bloody urine
- With infected kidneys, children often have abdominal or back pain and fever
- Urinalysis (urine test) — Only takes a few minutes. Method will depend on your child’s age.
- Toddlers not toilet-trained – We will attach a plastic bag to their skin to collect the sample.
- Older children – We will catch the specimen as your child empties his or her bladder.
- Lots of fluids
- Frequent urination
- Once the infection clears, we may recommend additional tests, particularly if your child has been treated for a kidney infection. We want to ensure there are no urinary tract abnormalities that might prevent your child’s body from fighting infection and to assess whether the UTI has damaged the kidneys. The specific tests will depend on your child and the kind of urinary infection. Additional tests may include:
- Kidney and/or bladder ultrasonography – To see the kidney and bladder using sound waves. This test may show shadows that indicate some abnormalities, like blockages, but cannot show all important urinary tract abnormalities. It also cannot tell how well the kidney works.
- Voiding cystourethrogram — Shows abnormalities inside the urethra and bladder and if urinary flow is normal during bladder emptying.
- Renogram – Assesses drainage rate of each kidney.