Urinary Tract Infection in Your Babies - Symptoms, Causes & How to Care Tips
Created by Dr Shipra Mathur Updated on Mar 27, 2021
A urinary tract infection or UTI as is more commonly known is an infection of the urinary system in the body. We are familiar with it as a problem in adults but did you know that it is quite common in young babies too ? In fact, it is one of the most common bacterial infections found in infants that present with high fever. About 8 percent of girls and 2 percent of boys will have at least one urinary tract infection during childhood- mostly within the first year of life. The infection usually starts from the skin around the genitals or back passage and travels up into the body to the bladder, urinary tubes and can go right upto the kidneys. For babies below a year of age that are mostly in diapers as yet to be potty trained, the bacteria in their stools are a common source of the infection. Urinary tract infections are usually easy to manage, but if left untreated they can cause kidney damage and even kidney failure, more so in young babies.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection in Your Baby
For many children, an unexplained fever is the only symptom. There may also be crying or discomfort when passing urine, odd smelling,cloudy or bloody urine, irritability, vomiting and poor feeding.
If your baby has any of the above symptoms or fever that is unexplained, you must see a doctor to get him/her assessed for a urine infection. It is important to catch it early as it requires timely antibiotics to avoid complications. A UTI is confirmed by testing a urine sample. The sample collected has to be a ‘clean catch’ sample and this is often quite a challenge in itself ! It is important to collect it as cleanly as possible to avoid contamination by the skin bacteria. The sample is sent for both a routine test that gets reported within the day usually and a culture which can take 48-72 hours.
If a UTI is suspected/confirmed, antibiotic treatment will be started for the baby.Most bacteria are sensitive to the usual antibiotics and a good early response is obtained. In any case, you must finish the course as prescribed and if needed, sometime a repeat test may also be done to check that the infection has completely disappeared.
In most babies, oral antibiotics are enough to take care of the problem. However, in some situations they may need to be given via a drip in the hospital. These would be babies that are very young ie below 1 month, very ill infants and those unable to eat or drink due to vomiting.
Urinary Tract Infection(UTI) Causes in Infants
A simple UTI is caused by a regular bug like E Coli that comes from the digestive tract and responds well and easily to oral treatment. However some times there may be atypical or recurrent infections that would need more investigations. These tests would include an ultrasound of the kidneys and bladder and other specialised scans using a dye. The aim would be to try and find a reason why the baby is more prone to UTIs . It would pick up problems like blockages or other abnormalities of the urinary tract that may have been present from birth and also to assess any damage to the kidneys due to the frequent infections.
Babies that have recurrent UTIs and/or found to have problems on their scans may need to be on a regular low dose oral antibiotic as a preventor for some time.
How to Cure Urinary Tract Infection in Your Child
Some children seem to be more prone to UTI and as parents we should take care to minimise the risk of infection. Make sure that your child gets plenty of fluids. Fluids help prevent constipation which is important to avoid as it encourages UTI. Drinking more also makes your baby urinate more frequently, flushing out the urinary tract. Also, for baby girls in particular, avoid harsh soaps and bubble baths and always wipe from front to back when cleaning after a motion to prevent bacteria hanging around in that area.
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