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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the bladder or kidneys usually caused by bacteria.

About 3% of girls and 1% of boys have had a UTI by the time they are 11 years old. Some children may have an abnormality of the kidneys or bladder which caused them to have repeated episodes of infection.

It is important to treat and prevent UTI in children because it can damage the kidneys.

When must one suspect that a child has UTI?

UTI is associated with the following signs and symptoms :

  • Fever (be alert to UTI especially when no other obvious source of fever is identified).
  • Vomiting
  • Crying when the child passes urine
  • Going to the toilet very frequently
  • Urine is cloudy or strong smelling
  • Stomach or back pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Poor growth

Why can UTI be dangerous?

  • Formation of kidney scars, of which there is a higher risk in the following :
    • Younger children especially those below 2 years old.
    • Delayed treatment of UTI.
    • Repeated episodes of UTI.
    • Underlying abnormality of the urinary tract.
  • High blood pressure – if there are scars in the kidneys.
  • Kidney failure which may require dialysis.

How should UTI be treated?

  • Antibiotics should be started promptly if the child has high fever with UTI.
  • All children with confirmed UTI must be evaluated by a paediatrician who will decide whether your child needs any kidney scans or X-rays. These scans and X-rays are done to detect any underlying urinary tract malformation.
  • Your child may be given antibiotics at night over a period of time to prevent further attacks of UTI.

Is there anything that can be done to prevent a recurrence of UTI?

  • Avoid constipation as this can increase the risk of getting another UTI. Give your child high fibre diet consisting of more vegetables and fruits.
  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids and empty the bladder adequately and regularly.
  • Get your child to wear loose cotton underwear.
  • Bring your child to see a doctor whenever he or she has any of the above symptoms of UTI. Every episode of UTI should be treated promptly.
Last reviewed : 26 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Lee Ming Lee
    Dr. Lynster Liaw Chiew Tung
Reviewer : Dr. Lee Ming Lee