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What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A UTI is a bacterial infection found in the urine. This infection can affect any part of the urinary tract which includes the urethra, bladder, ureters and kidneys. These infections can lead to serious health problems if not treated, including kidney infections or scarring of the kidneys.

Is it likely that my child will have a UTI?

Girls are more likely than boys to get a UTI. Also, uncircumcised boys are more likely to have UTIs than circumcised boys.  Overall, UTIs are less common as children get older.

What symptoms will my child have?

UTI’s can present with many different symptoms. Babies may only have fever, fussiness and irritability. Older children may complain of pain or burning with urination, a need to urinate more often, wetting of underwear, vomiting, decreased appetite, abdominal or side or back pain. You  may also notice foul-smelling, cloudy-appearance or blood in the  of urine.

I’m worried my child has a UTI, what should I do?

First, come on into the office! Your child needs to see a pediatrician immediately. We will ask you about your child’s symptoms and if you have a family history of urinary tract problems. We will then examine your child and collect a urine sample. Older children will be asked to urinate into a container. In younger children, especially those under the age of 2 years, we will use a small tube, called a catheter, and insert it through the urethra into the bladder to collect urine. A catheter is preferred as it has less risk of contamination with bacteria that may be located on the skin.

What sort of tests will be done?

We will run a quick test on your child’s urine called a urine analysis. These results help us decide if a UTI is likely; however, the only way to confirm a diagnosis of bacteria in the urine is to do a culture. For a culture, the urine is sent to a laboratory where it is inspected for bacteria growth. The test takes about 48 hours as the bacteria will take time grow in the lab if a UTI is present.

My child has been diagnosed with a UTI – what happens next?

We will treat with antibiotics. Unless your child was very sick and unable to keep fluids down, we will send an oral antibiotic to your pharmacy to use for 7 to 10 days. It is important to treat so we clear the infection and help your child feel better, prevent the spread of infection outside of the urinary tract, and ensure that your child’s kidneys remain damage-free.

Tips for preventing UTIs

Teach girls to wipe front to back after bowel movements. Drink lots of water and avoid constipation. Wear cotton underpants and avoid tight clothing. Do not sit in a wet suit after swimming. Avoid bubbles baths and harsh soaps. Lastly, avoid sodas, caffeinated drinks, and chocolate as much as possible.

For more information check out these great resources!

Healthy Children – Detecting Urinary Tract Infections

Kids Health – Urinary Tract Infections