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Urinary Tract Infection In Children


What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is caused by bacteria that get inside your child's urinary tract. Your child's urinary tract includes his kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Urine is made in the kidneys, and it flows from the ureters to the bladder. Urine leaves the bladder through the urethra. Your child may have a lower UTI, which is an infection in his bladder and urethra.

What increases my child's risk for a UTI?

Your child's urethra is close to his anus. This makes it easier for germs to enter your child's urinary tract. UTIs are more common in girls because the urethra is shorter. This allows bacteria to enter the urinary tract more easily. The following increase your child's risk of a UTI:

  • Poor wiping habits
  • Not urinating frequently
  • Constipation
  • Not being circumcised

What are the signs and symptoms of a UTI in children younger than 2 years?

  • Fever
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Poor feeding or slow weight gain
  • Urine that smells bad

What are the signs and symptoms of a UTI in children older than 2 years?

  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal, side, or back pain
  • Urine that smells bad
  • Urgent need to urinate or urinating more often than normal
  • Urinating very little, leaking urine, or bedwetting
  • Pain or a burning feeling when urinating

How is a UTI diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's signs and symptoms. He will check your child's abdomen, back, and genitals. He may check for discomfort by pressing on your child's abdomen, sides, and back. Your child may also need the following tests:

  • Urine tests will be done. A sample of your child's urine may be collected and sent to a lab to learn what germ is causing his infection. Your child may be able to give a urine sample by urinating into a cup. Your child may need a catheter put into his bladder to get a urine sample.
  • Blood tests may show infection, kidney function, or to get information about your child's overall health.
  • Imaging tests may show a blockage in your child's kidney. They may also show problems with the structure of your child's urinary system. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help his bladder and kidneys show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

How is a UTI treated?

  • Antibiotics help treat a bacterial infection.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much your child should take and how often he should take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.

How can I help prevent my child from getting a UTI?

  • Have your child empty his bladder often. Make sure your child urinates and empties his bladder as soon as he feels he needs to. Teach your child not to hold his urine for long periods of time.
  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids. This may help him urinate more often. Ask how much liquid your child should drink each day and which liquids are best for him.
  • Teach your child to wipe from front to back. Your child should wipe from front to back after she urinates or has a bowel movement to keep germs from entering the urinary tract.
  • Treat your child's constipation. This may lower his UTI risk. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to treat your child's constipation.

Where can I get more information?

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
    141 Northwest Point Boulevard
    Elk Grove Village , IL 60007-1098
    Phone: 1- 847 - 434-4000
    Web Address:

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child is not getting better after 1 to 2 days of treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care for my child?


  • Your child is vomiting so much that he cannot keep his medicine down.
  • Your child has very strong pain in his belly, sides, or back.
  • Your child urinates very little or not at all.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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