Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Children

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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An infant with a UTI may be irritable and have a fever.

Symptoms and Signs of UTIs in Children

Infants with a urinary tract infection are less likely than adults or older children to have the characteristic symptoms. Urinary tract infections can develop in both male and female infants. Affected babies may have a fever and no other symptoms. Infants who have a urinary tract infection may

  • be irritable, have a fever, and
  • have loose stools and/or feeding problems.

Because of the nonspecific nature of many of these symptoms, urinary tract infections can be more difficult to diagnose in infants.

Quick GuideUrinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms Pictures Slideshow

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Symptoms Pictures Slideshow

Urinary tract infections are a fairly common problem in childhood and may have either a benign course responding to simple antibiotic therapy or be associated with significant disruption in either the anatomy or function of a child's urinary system. This article will focus on UTIs affecting children, with an emphasis on those less than 2 years of age. Because of their more unique and complicated nature, neonatal (less than 28 days of age) UTIs will not be addressed as a specific issue. The principles discussed below, however, are applicable to that age group.

The urinary tract is commonly divided into two areas. The upper urinary tract consists of the kidneys and the delicate tubular structure (ureter) that runs from the kidney to the bladder. The lower tract includes the bladder and the urethra (the tube from the bladder to the outside of the body).

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) in children facts

  • Childhood urinary tract infections are fairly common and are generally caused by bacteria. Routine antibiotic therapy is successful in resolving these infections.
  • Recurrent UTIs in children may be indicative of malformation or malfunction of the urinary tract.
  • Common symptoms and signs of UTIs in children include pain and urgency with urination, blood in the urine, abdominal/pelvic pain, fever, flank pain, and vomiting.
  • Some selected children who experience a UTI should have diagnostic studies performed. These children include children less than 2 years of age, any male child, any child who has had more than one UTI, or any child who has had pyelonephritis.
  • Several recommendations exist to help lessen the likelihood of a child developing a UTI.

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A urinary tract infection is an infection of the bladder (cystitis) or kidney(s) (pyelonephritis). Cystitis is considerably more common than the more severe and more serious pyelonephritis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/26/2016

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