Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) In Children

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in kids, and they can be serious if you don't treat them. Learn about the symptoms and causes of UTI.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) In Children
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) In Children

What Is Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection which occurs in the urinary tract. Usually a sterile environment, infection occurs in the urinary tract when bacteria travel from the skin surrounding the genitals or rectum through the urine or bloodstream.

An infection in the upper urinary tract consisting of the kidneys and ureters is called upper UTI and infection in the lower urinary tract consisting of bladder and urethra is called lower UTI.

Is Urinary Tract Infection In Babies And Children Common?

Childhood UTI is common and more likely to occur in girls than in boys in the first year. Premature babies, newborn infants who have something blocking the urine flow and children with birth defects of the urinary system are more likely to develop UTI. According to doctors, UTI in babies below the age of 2 are more likely to suffer serious damage and therefore UTI should be diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Cystitis and pyelonephritis can also occur in children and cystitis in children are more common than pyelonephritis.

 What Causes Urinary Tract Infection in Children?

Girls are more prone to UTI due to the close proximity of rectum to the urethra. Causes of UTI in children are:

  • Stool coming into contact with the urethra, especially in girls when wiping from back to front.
  • Stool from the soiled nappy coming into contact with the urethra.
  • Bubble-baths pose a threat of UTI as they are an easy medium for bacteria to travel.
  • Tight-fitting clothes are another cause of a UTI.

Signs and Symptoms of UTI

Sometimes only characterized by fever, early detection and treatment will ensure your child and you will be distress free. Watch for these symptoms to make sure your child is safe from UTI.

Symptoms in Babies and Young Children

Babies and children who have not learned to communicate may be diagnosed if you notice the following symptoms:

  • A fever with no other symptoms and which has no other known cause
  • Urine that smells odd
  • Vomiting
  • No interest in food
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Persistent irritability or fussiness
  • Crying while urinating indicating pain or uneasiness
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms in Children

  • Complaining of pain or a burning sensation while urinating (Dysuria)
  • Need to urinate more often (Urinary urgency)
  • Pain in the lower belly
  • Accidents due to loss of bladder control (Enuresis)
  • Foul-smelling, red, pink or cloudy urine
  • Flank (region below the rib cage and above the waist) or back pain on one or both sides

Risk Factors for Developing UTI in a Child

Some children are more prone to UTI’s than others. Here are a few risk factors to watch out for:

  • Uncircumcised male infants are at a higher risk as bacteria can thrive under the foreskin which is difficult to clean.
  • A child who does not urinate frequently is at a higher risk as this allows bacteria to thrive in the urinary tract which would otherwise be expelled with the urine.
  • Malfunctioning of the immune system or urinary system
  • Lack of proper toilet hygiene