Urinary Tract Infections in Childhood
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Urinary Tract Infections in Childhood

(UTI in Childhood)

En Español (Spanish Version)


A urinary tract infection includes the bladder, urethra, and kidneys. Urinary tract infections (UTI) are easily treated, but can cause complications if left alone.

The Urinary Tract

si55551330_96472_1_UTI Children fact sheet

© 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.


UTIs can occur in children when bacteria enter the bladder or the kidneys. This can sometimes be caused by:

  • Holding urine for long periods of time
  • Not fully emptying the bladder
  • Females wiping themselves from back to front after a bowel movement

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. The following factors increase your child's chance of developing a urinary tract infection:

  • Abnormalities of the urinary tract, including:
    • Vesicoureteral reflux—a condition in which urine flows backwards from the bladder up into the kidneys
    • Urinary obstruction, in which a blockage reduces or stops urinary flow
  • Poor hygiene and toilet habits
  • Family history of UTIs
  • Uncircumcised state


Symptoms include:

  • Feeling the need to urinate frequently
  • Only producing a small amount of urine
  • Burning or painful urination
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Stomachache
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Potty-trained children wetting themselves


Your doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Tests may include the following:

  • A urinalysis, which is a laboratory examination of a urine sample
  • Urine culture


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include:


Treatment with antibiotics will help clear up the infection.

In some cases, severe UTIs are treated with intravenous or intramuscular antibiotics. Researchers have found that oral antibiotics appear to be as effective in treating UTIs as other treatments. *


Drink plenty of fluids to flush the bacteria out of the system, and to prevent the urine from becoming too concentrated.


To help reduce your child's chances of developing a urinary tract infection, take the following steps:

  • Consult with your child’s physician about surgery if your child has an abnormality of the urinary system.
  • Make sure that girls learn to wipe from front to back.
  • Encourage your child to go to the bathroom frequently—at least several times a day.
  • If you have a boy who is uncircumcised, have him learn to thoroughly wash the foreskin regularly. Circumcision appears to be protective for recurrent UTIs


American Academy of Family Physicians

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse


About Kids Health

BC Health Guide


Ahmed S, Swedlund S. Evaluation and treatment of urinary tract infections in children. Am Fam Physician. 1998;57:7.

Evidence-based care guideline for medical management of first UTI in children < 12 years old. National Guideline Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://www.guideline.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=10163&nbr=005348&string=UTI. Accessed June 11, 2008.

Hellerstein S. Urinary tract infections in children: why they occur and how to prevent them. Am Fam Physician. 1998;57:10. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/980515ap/heller.html. Accessed April 18, 2007.

Shaikh N, Hoberman A. Epidemiology and risk factors for urinary tract infections in children. UpToDate website. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com/. Accessed April 18, 2007.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) in children. Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/. Accessed April 18, 2007.

Urinary tract infections in children. The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center website. Available at: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/0800/0867.asp?index=5472. Accessed April 18, 2007.

*12/5/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Pohl A. Modes of administration of antibiotics for symptomatic severe urinary tract infections [review]. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2007(4). DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003237.

Last reviewed June 2008 by Kari Kassir, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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