A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that affects any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs are more common in females than males and are more prevalent in children than adults. Children are at a higher risk of developing UTIs because their urinary systems are still developing and their immune systems are not yet fully mature.
The signs and symptoms of UTIs in children can vary depending on the child’s age and the location of the infection. Common symptoms of UTIs in children include:
-Pain or burning during urination
-Cloudy or dark urine
-Blood in the urine
-Bedwetting in children who have previously been toilet trained
The most common cause of UTIs in children is bacteria that enter the urinary tract through the urethra and travel to the bladder. The bacteria can come from the skin around the child’s genitals, the rectal area, or from other parts of the body. Other factors that can increase the risk of UTIs in children include:
-Not drinking enough fluids
-Enlarged prostate in boys
-Blockages in the urinary tract, such as kidney stones or tumors
-Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), a condition in which urine flows back from the bladder into the ureters
-Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, that can weaken the immune system
Treatment for UTIs in children typically involves antibiotics to clear the infection. The specific type of antibiotic used will depend on the type of bacteria causing the infection. The child will need to take the antibiotics for the full course of treatment, even if symptoms improve before the medication is finished. In addition to antibiotics, the child may be advised to drink plenty of fluids to help flush the bacteria from the urinary tract.
There are several steps that parents can take to help prevent UTIs in children, including:
-Encourage children to drink plenty of fluids, particularly water
-Teach children to wipe from front to back after using the toilet
-Encourage children to urinate frequently and to empty their bladders completely
-Encourage girls to wipe the area around the vaginal opening after urinating
-Teach children to wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet
-Avoid bubble baths and other irritants that can cause itching or burning in the genital area
-Do not give bubble baths or harsh soaps to children to avoid irritating the genital area
- Hooton, T. M. (2010). Uncomplicated urinary tract infection. American Family Physician, 81(6), 753-760.
- Höfer, T., & Riedmiller, H. (2010). Urinary tract infections in childhood. Deutsches Är