Urinary tract infections in kids

URINARY tract infections (UTIs) in children are common and cause various symptoms.

Nearly 1 in 20 boys and more than 1 in 10 girls have at least one urinary tract infection by the time they are 16 years old.

A UTI is an infection of the urinary system. Bacteria can lie around the anus after passing stool and can subsequently gain entry into the urinary system, multiplying and causing urinary infections.

The infection is mostly limited to the bladder but may travel higher to the kidneys.

The risk of developing a UTI is increased by:

Symptoms can include: fever; diarrhoea and/or vomiting; drowsiness; off form, off feeds and generally unwell; pain; blood in urine (rare), jaundice (yellowing of the skin); cloudy or smelly urine; pain on passing urine or passing urine more frequently; bedwetting in a previously dry child; if the kidney becomes infected children may have shivers and complain of abdominal or back pain.

A urine sample is needed to confirm the diagnosis of UTI. Antibiotics should clear the infection. Fluids help to prevent dehydration and paracetamol helps to ease pain and fever.

A urinary infection is normally a once-off event.

However, some children may have more than one infection. Severe or repeated infections can cause permanent kidney damage leading to kidney problems or high blood pressure in later life.

Tests are advised in some cases to check the kidneys and/or bladder, usually in children under the age of five years.