Urinary tract infection in children

What is urinary tract infection in children?

Urinary tract infection is caused by bacteria in the urine due to infection of the urethra, kidney, bladder or prostate.

This infection usually occurs at about three years of age and is more common in girls. Uncircumcised boys have a somewhat higher risk of infection before the age of one year.

Prognosis of the disease

In most cases the infection is cured by following appropriate treatment and repeated infections can be prevented.

If the infection spreads to the kidneys (pyelonephritis) it can be more serious, especially if they are repeated, as this may be a sign of chronic damage.

Symptoms of urinary tract infection in children

Although there may be no symptoms, some may include lack of appetite, fever or vomiting.

In most infections only the bladder is involved and the symptoms may be:

  • Blood in the urine or cloudy urine
  • Bad smell or strong odor of urine
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Discomfort
  • Pressure or pain in the lower pelvis or lower back
  • Children who wet the bed even though they have been toilet trained

If the infection has spread to the kidneys, the following symptoms are seen:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Lateral pain in the side or back
  • Severe pain in the abdomen area
  • Warm or flushed skin

Urinary tract infection in children usually occurs by age 3.

What are the causes of urinary tract infection?

Urinary tract infections can occur when bacteria enter the bladder or kidneys. These bacteria are common on the skin around the anus or near the vagina.

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Normally, bacteria are not present in the urinary tract, but there are several factors that can cause bacteria to enter or remain in the urinary tract:

  • Vesicoureteral reflux: a pathology that is usually present at birth and allows urine to flow back into the ureters and kidneys.
  • Brain or nervous system pathologies that make it difficult to empty the bladder.
  • Bubble baths.
  • Clothing that is too tight.
  • Not urinating enough during the day.
  • Incorrect wiping (girls): if after going to the bathroom, wiping from behind, near the anus, forward can carry bacteria to the opening where urine comes out.
  • Congenital changes or abnormalities in the structure of the urinary tract.

Can it be prevented?

Some of the measures that can be taken to prevent urinary tract infections are:

  • Have the child wear underwear and loose-fitting clothing.
  • Have them drink more fluids.
  • Avoid bubble baths.
  • Make sure your child’s genital area is kept clean, as well as wiping from front to back.
  • Teach your child to go to the bathroom several times a day and not hold the urge to urinate.

Treatments for urinary tract infection

Rapid treatment with antibiotics is important to protect the child’s kidneys. Once detected, the child should drink plenty of fluids.

Treatment will vary depending on the age of the child:

  • In many cases younger infants will be hospitalized and given antibiotics through a vein.
  • Older infants or children will be treated with oral antibiotics.

This treatment may last several months and in some cases, once finished, another urine test may be necessary to make sure that bacteria do not persist in the bladder.

What specialist treats you?

Urinary tract infections in children are treated by a pediatric nephrologist or pediatrician.