Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Children

What Are Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections of the urinary system and may involve just the bladder, or the bladder and the kidneys. Most infections without fever are confined to the bladder. Most infections with fever are in the bladder and the kidneys.

Urinary tract infections account for more than one million visits to pediatricians' offices every year. Throughout childhood, the risk of a UTI is higher for girls than for boys. The symptoms are not always obvious to parents, and younger children are usually unable to describe how they feel.

What Causes Urinary Tract Infections?

Children get urinary tract infections for many reasons. Urine holding or constipation can be significant factors. Some children are unable to relax completely when they empty their bladder, causing irritation. Others have changes in their anatomy that make infections more likely.

What Are the Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection?

Symptoms a UTI include:

  • Irritability
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Pain with urination
  • Urgent need to void
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Increased urine accidents
  • A strong odor to the urine

Not all children who have these symptoms have a urinary tract infection, so it’s important to have a specialist confirm the infection using a urine culture.

How Is a Urinary Tract Infection Treated?

Most urine infections are treated with oral antibiotics. Infections in young children or children with severe infections may need intravenous (IV) antibiotics. A repeat urine culture should be done after the antibiotic is complete to make sure the infection is gone.

If children have an infection in the kidneys or an infection with fever, they may be evaluated for vesicoureteral reflux, a condition in which a child's urine flows backward from a full bladder up the ureters to the kidneys. This abnormality is common in children with urinary infections. If children have several urinary tract infections without fever, they may be evaluated for dysfunctional elimination. We’ll work with you and your family to understand the causes of your child's infection and to break the cycle of repeated infections.

Make an Appointment

If you’d like to request an appointment with one of our specialists, call 1.800.543.7356 (1.800.KIDS DOC®). 

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