In this section
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an
infection anywhere in the urinary tract. The urinary tract includes
any organs that collect, store or pass urine inluding the bladder,
urethra (the tube from which urine passes out of the bladder), and
UTI is quite common, especially in young
children who are still in nappies. It can also occur in older
A UTI is usually caused when germs (bacteria)
get into the bladder or urethra. The germs most often come from the
bowels (gut), or from poo which is on the skin and then
gets into the urethra. This can happen to any baby and is not due
to poor washing or changing.
Testing your child's urine is the only way to
know for sure if they have a UTI. Tests are usually done to look
for a problem with the bladder or kidneys. Most children will have
an ultrasound scan. This is a simple and painless test much like
the scans that some women have during pregnancy.
In some children, a Micturating
Cysto-Urethrogram (MCU) is done. This test involves putting a
catheter into the bladder through the urethra. Dye is injected
through the catheter and X-Ray pictures are taken. The test is done
mainly to look for a condition known as urinary reflux (sometimes
called VUR). Discuss the test with your doctor.
There are other tests that are needed in a
small number of patients. Your doctor will discuss these with
Urine specimens are first usually tested with
a dipstick. This can help show if there is any sign of infection,
but a final diagnosis can only be made by sending the urine to a
laboratory for further tests using a culture. Culture results may
take 24 to 48 hours.
If the dipstick test shows there is a UTI,
then treatment may be started. The diagnosis and treatment may
be changed once the culture results are back from the
laboratory. You may be asked to call your doctor to discuss the
results and treatment when the laboratory results are
back. See the factsheet: Urine tests.
Antibiotics are the main treatment. They can
be taken by mouth. Young infants, or children who are very
unwell with a UTI, should be admitted to hospital for antibiotics
directly into a vein by intravenous therapy (IVT).
You should take your child to a doctor
immediately for a urine test if your child:
Most children with UTI make a good recovery
and have no future problems. In a very small number of children,
there may be kidney problems or high blood pressure. Your doctor
will discuss the necessary tests and how to monitor for this.
It is sensible for anyone who has had a UTI in
the past to check their blood pressure and do a urine test every
year once they reach adolescence.
It is important that any pregnant woman who
has had a UTI in the past to tell her obstetrician.
Developed by the RCH department of General Medicine. First published
2003. Reviewed: October 2010
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