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Urinary Tract Infections in Young Children

Urinary Tract Infections

Normal urine has no germs (bacteria). However, bacteria can get into the urinary tract from two sources: the skin around the rectum and genitals and the bloodstream from other parts of the body. Bacteria may cause infections in any or all parts of the urinary tract, including the following:

  • Urethra (called “urethritis”)
  • Bladder (called “cystitis”)
  • Kidneys (called “pyelonephritis”)

UTIs are common in infants and young children. About 3 percent of girls and 1 percent of boys will have a UTI by 11 years of age. The frequency of UTIs in girls is much greater than in boys. Uncircumcised boys have slightly more UTIs than those who have been circumcised.

Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection in Your Child

Symptoms of UTIs may include the following:

  • Fever
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Need to urinate frequently, or difficulty getting urine out
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Vomiting, loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Side or back pain
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Unexplained and persistent irritability in an infant


If your child has symptoms of a UTI, your pediatrician will do the following:

  • Ask about your child’s symptoms
  • Ask about any family history of urinary tract problems
  • Ask about what your child has been eating and drinking
  • Examine your child
  • Get a urine sample from your child


UTIs are treated with antibiotics. Infants and young children with UTIs usually need to take antibiotics for 7 to 14 days, sometimes longer. Make sure your child takes all the medicine your pediatrician prescribes. Do not stop giving your child the medicine until the pediatrician says the treatment is finished, even if your child feels better. UTIs can return if not fully treated. UTIs need to be treated right away for the following reasons:

  • To get rid of the infection
  • To prevent the spread of the infection
  • To reduce the chances of kidney damage


After your child finishes the antibiotics, your pediatrician may want to test another urine sample to make sure the bacteria are gone. In addition, your pediatrician will want to make sure the urinary tract is normal and that the infection did not cause any damage. This will be done through various tests such as kidney and bladder ultrasounds, voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG), intravenous pyelogram, and nuclear scans. Remember, UTIs are common and mostly easy to treat. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are important because untreated or repeated infections can cause long-term medical problems. Talk to your pediatrician if you suspect that your child might have a UTI.


Information on this site is intended for Angel Kids Pediatrics patients only. Always consult your doctor before beginning, modifying, or discontinuing any treatment plan.

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