A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common type of infection in children. About 1-2 percent of children are diagnosed with a UTI. Each year, we treat more than 800 patients who have urinary tract infections.
The urinary tract includes the parts of the body involved in making urine: the kidneys and the bladder. A child gets a UTI when there is an abnormal growth of bacteria in the urine. The infection can either be in the bladder (cystitis) or in the kidney (pyelonephritis). Understanding the difference between the two is important because how we will manage and treat your child is different.
Cystitis is an infection in the bladder. Symptoms include:
Pyelonephritis is an infection of the kidneys, usually caused by bacteria that have traveled up the urethra, bladder and ureters.
In infants and young children the symptoms include:
Older children will also have:
If we suspect that your child has a UTI, we will ask for a urine test. The proper collection and evaluation of your child’s urine is key to an accurate diagnosis. A diagnosis cannot be made until the urine is tested. In infants or children who are not toilet trained, a catheter specimen is best.
Your child’s urine will be sent to a laboratory to see if any bacteria are growing. This is called a urine culture. It will take one to two days to get these results back. The urine culture will let us know what kind of bacteria is growing in your child’s urine, how much of that bacteria is growing, and what antibiotics will best treat your child’s infection.
During your office visit, we will discuss which management approaches are needed for your child depending on the symptoms, the urine culture results and the age of your child.
If your child had symptoms of a bladder infection (cystitis), we will focus on his toileting habits to prevent future urinary tract infections. We will ask that he empties his bladder on a routine schedule, increases the amount of water he drinks, and monitors bowel movements for any signs of constipation. In addition, we may refer your child to our DOVE Center for:
If your child has a kidney infection (pyelonephritis) we may request other imaging studies such as:
Depending on the results from the tests, we will find the best treatment option for your child.
Reviewed by: Division of Urology
Date: May 2011