Babycare Health

UTI in Children: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Ambili S Kartha

Created by Ambili S Kartha
Updated on Jun 11, 2020

UTI in Children Causes Symptoms and Treatment
Reviewed by Expert panel

UTI In Children Diagnosis And Treatment

Kids catch lots of childhood infections. Even though common colds and other respiratory infections are common among the children, they can contract urinary tract infections (UTIs), too. Well, the first time moms can find it shocking, but, yes, UTI in children is more common than they think. It is found that before they turn seven years, 8 percent of girls and 2 percent of boys will have at least one episode. Therefore, UTI is one of the most common pediatric infections.

The good news is it is treatable, and it brings no harm to the child if promptly detected and treated. On the other hand, if neglected, UTI can cause several complications, including permanent kidney damage. Therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms and to get treatment as soon as you detect symptoms to prevent complications.

How can My child contract a UTI?

Before knowing how your child contracts Urinary tract infection, it is important to get a picture of the urinary tract. The urinary tract consists of 

  • Two kidneys to filter extra water and waste from the blood. This forms urine, which gets excreted from the body.

  • Two Ureters, one from each kidney, takes the urine produced in the kidney to the urinary bladder.

  • Urinary bladder stores the urine until it is flushed out.

  • The urethra is the tube that empties the urine and takes it out of the body.

As you see, the urethra is the entry point for the germs to get into the urinary tract. The skin around the urethra can carry bacteria. It may frequently enter the urethra. However, it will not cause an infection every time. This is because the bacteria that enter the urethra get flushed out during urination. Yet, if the bacteria does not flush out of the urethra, they may thrive within the urinary tract. This can bring about infection anywhere in the urinary tract. If neglected, it can easily reach the kidneys. 

Types OF UTI In children

There are two types of UTIs that can affect children.

  • Cystitis Or Bladder Infection: Here, UTIs happen in the lower part of the urinary tract — the urethra and bladder. 

  • Pyelonephritis Or Kidney Infection: When the infection moves from the bladder to the kidneys, it causes kidney infection. 

Both can be effectively treated with antibiotics. However, a kidney infection can bring about more severe complications if left untreated.


What Causes UTI In Children

UTIs are more often caused by bacteria. Generally, intestinal bacteria E. coli brings about UTI in children. These bacteria lodge in the skin around the anus. It can easily enter the urinary tract through the urethra.

Here are some of the factors that cause UTI in children:

  • Taking a bubble bath increases the odds of contracting UTI as it increases the risk of bacteria entering the urethra.

  • Tight-fitting bottom wear also increases the chances of UTI in children.

  • Moving wipes from back to front instead of front to back after a bowel movement makes the way of bacteria to urethra easy.

  • Holding up urination for long periods of time can also increase the risk of UTI. This happens more often in school-going children 

  • Young children with severe constipation can contract UTI as constipation interferes with normal passage of urine.

What Are The Symptoms Of UTI In Children

Newborns with a UTI may not develop noticeable symptoms other than a fever. However, following signs along with fever can be a sign of UTI in infants:

  • Poor appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Being sluggish

  • Foul-smelling urine

  • Irritability 

Symptoms of children over age two years include:

  • Frequent Bedwetting

  • Increased urge to pee. Although each time they could pass a little amount of urine.

  • Abdominal pain, precisely below belly button

  • Child complains stinging or burning sensation when peeing or cries every time try to pass urine

  • Waking up at night frequently to urinate

  • Cloudy urine

  •  Blood in urine

  • Foul smelling urine 

  • Difficulty to hold urine 

In the case of  kidney infections (Pyelonephritis) along with the above signs, the child looks sicker and may develop: 

  • Pain in the side or back 

  • High fever and chills

  • Severe tiredness

  • Vomiting 

How To Diagnose UTI In Children

UTI in children is diagnosed by:

  • Urine Tests:  UTI increases levels of white blood cells and bacteria in the urine. The UTI in children can be diagnosed by examining the urine. Urine culture is also performed to identify the bacteria causing UTI.

  •  Imaging Of The Urinary Tract: In the case of recurring UTIs, imaging tests like ultra Sonography is performed to check if there are any structural abnormalities of the urinary tract.

  • Blood Tests: In case the urine tests results of the child fails to confirm a diagnosis, blood tests and blood culture is performed to strike out the possibilities of kidney infection. 

Treating UTI In Children

Prompt antibiotic treatment is required for UTI in children to avoid complications. Medicine for pain may also be given to the child, depending on the severity and age of the child. Hospitalization may be required if the child is having high fever, continuous vomiting, or if exhibit signs of dehydration.

Preventing UTI In Children

Here are some measures that help to prevent UTI in children:

  • Change the baby’s diaper more often

  • Urge the child to drink plenty of water and fluids

  • Insist the child to never ignore nature's call. Tell them holding back urine is an unhealthy habit.

  • Train older children to maintain cleanliness in the genital area.

  • Teaching child safe wiping practice, especially after bowel movements. Helps to prevent UTI from great expense. Ask them to wipe from front to back. This reduces the possibility of bacteria from the anus getting into the urethra.

  • Discourage the girls from bubble bath and wearing tight-fitting clothes.

  • Make the child wear cotton underwear that gives extra space to dry.

Factors Can Put Your Child At A Higher Risk For A UTI

The urethra doesn’t, in general, bear bacteria. But certain circumstances can make it easier for bacteria to get in or harbour in the child’s urinary tract. If there is a family history of UTI, the child may also contract it. Find out some of the risk factors of UTI: 

  • Girl child: Girl children are more susceptible to UTI as their urethras are shorter and closer to the anus. This increases the risk of bacteria entering the urethra and to move up the urinary tract.

  • Structural abnormalities of their urinary tract:  Birth defects like vesicoureteral reflux (the abnormality happens when the flow of urine goes the wrong way. Here, the urine flows backwards from the bladder to the kidney via ureters), and urinary obstruction that caused due to abnormal narrow areas in the urinary tract can bring about UTI in children

  • Uncircumcised Boys: Uncircumcised boys under one year old may also contract UTI as the bacteria tend to accumulate under the foreskin

Home Remedies For UTI In children

Does your child contract UTI? Well, try these home remedies along with the medicines prescribed by the doctor:

  • Feed the child probiotics

  • Encourage the child to drink plenty of water and juices, especially lemon juice.

  • Give the child less-spicy food and

  • Increase the intake of vitamin C, for this, give child vitamin C enriched fruits like kiwi, grapes, oranges, etc. 

  • Cranberry juice is good for quick recovery from UTI.


This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Jun 17, 2020

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| Jul 04, 2021

My Child is Having UTI noe and i have tried all the methods mentioned here. But still she is having too much problems. Plz help.

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