Pediatric Urinary Tract Infection

Blog Pediatrics

Pediatric Urinary Tract Infection

written by Christina Wedberg Written by Christina Wedberg
Christina Wedberg

Christina Wedberg

Christina has been a writer since 2010 and has an M.F.A. from The New School for Social Research. Christina specializes in writing about health issues and education.

Read more posts by this author.

August 1, 2018 Read Time - 4 minutes

Children tend to catch a lot of bugs as they grow up, and urinary tract infections are fairly common in children. By the age of seven years old, about 2 percent of boys and 8 percent of girls will have had a pediatric urinary tract infection.

What is a Pediatric Urinary Tract Infection?

The urinary tract is made up of the bladder, kidneys, ureters, and urethra. Each of these has a special function in your child’s body:

  • Bladder – Stores urine
  • Kidneys – Filters waste and turns it into urine
  • Ureters – Send urine from the kidneys to the bladder
  • Urethra – Empties urine out of the bladder

A urinary tract infection (UTI) happens when bacteria from your child’s poop or something that they touched gets into their urinary tract. This bacterium begins to multiply and causes an infection in the urinary tract, usually the urethra or the bladder.

Symptoms of a Pediatric Urinary Tract Infection

With younger children and infants, it may be a challenge to pinpoint the symptoms of a pediatric UTI. Infants tend to have more general symptoms like not sleeping or eating well, fussiness, diarrhea, crying, or fever.

In older children, the symptoms are easier to spot. Symptoms of a UTI may include:

• Cloudy or weird-smelling pee
• Blood in the pee
• Pain or burning while peeing
• Urgency to pee, but then only a few drops come out
• Waking in the night to go pee or peeing more
• Wetting the bed even though potty-trained
• Diarrhea
• Nausea or vomiting
• Fever
• Poor appetite
• Irritability
• Pain in the back, side, or below the belly

What are the risk factors for pediatric urinary tract infections?

There are a few risk factors that make some children at more risk to get a UTI. Urinary tract infections are more common in girls than in boys because a girls’ urethra is smaller in size and closer to the anus. Other risk factors may include:

• Poor bathroom hygiene – Girls should always wipe themselves from front to back after going to the bathroom to avoid the bacteria from a stool getting into the urethra.
• Poor bathroom habits – Children should use the bathroom regularly, such every few hours, rather than holding it in.
• Boys who are uncircumcised
• Children who have a suppressed auto-immune system
• Children who have an injury and require self-catheterization
• Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) – a backward flow of urine that goes from the bladder into the ureters and flows toward the kidneys
• A blockage in the urinary tract

A pediatric urinary infection is easy to treat with antibiotics, but it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. An untreated urinary tract infection can lead to kidney damage. An infection that travels into the kidneys is called pyelonephritis. This condition may be serious and your child could experience symptoms such as:

• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Chills or shaking
• Flushed skin
• High fever
• Irritability
• Severe fatigue
• Severe abdominal, side, or back pain

Prevention of a urinary tract infection?

For infants and toddlers, changing their diaper frequently can help prevent the spread of bacteria that can cause an infection. After a child is potty-trained, consider teaching them good hygiene habits to prevent germs spreading from the anus to the urethra.

School-aged kids should limit their time in bubble baths and their use of strong soaps that can cause irritation. Finally, wearing cotton underwear rather than a nylon material will help discourage bacteria from growing.

Treatment for a pediatric urinary tract infection

Treatment for a pediatric urinary tract infection will of include a urinalysis to determine what kind of bacteria there is.

Telehealthcare websites like can easily assess your child’s symptoms and offer a treatment plan that may include a prescription for antibiotics. It’s convenient to make an appointment, get a lab test, and pick up your child’s prescription at your local pharmacy.

Click here to book an appointment with a PlushCare online doctor. Appointments take only 15 minutes.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

Our commitment to you.

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

  • right Tick Image

    Research from sources you can trust

  • right Tick Image

    Medical reviews by field experts

  • right Tick Image

    Frequent content updates

More to learn.