Urinary Tract Infections in Toddlers

image001 Urinary tract infections simply referred to as UTI are quite common with children. These infections have been associated with disruption of the child’s urinary tract anatomy and its function which makes treatment essential. Today, we will have a deeper look at UTI in toddlers, particularly those aged below 2 years.

What Are the Symptoms of UTI in Toddlers?

Interestingly, the symptoms of UTI in toddlers are not as obvious as they are in older children or adults. Below are some of the symptoms in toddlers.

  • Poor appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Poor weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Crying when urinating
  • Foul smelling urine
  • Fever–this is sometimes the only UTI symptom with infants

When it comes to older children, the symptoms are easier to identify as they mostly affect the urinary system. Some of the symptoms you should look out for include:

  • Foul smelling urine
  • Changes in the child’s urination habits such as bed wetting or loss of bladder control
  • Increased frequency in urination but only small amounts of urine are passed
  • Pain when urinating or burning sensation
  • Lower abdomen pain
  • Flank pain. This is just above the waist and below the rib cage. Pain can be felt on one or both sides
  • Cloudy urine
  • Change in color in the urine and it could be pinkish or reddish

It’s important to seek medical attention when your child suffers from any combination of these symptoms so as to get an accurate diagnosis.

What Causes UTI in Toddlers?

UTIs are attributed to bacterial infection within the urinary tract. The urinary tract is made up of the bladder, urethra, ureters and kidneys. These organs have a vital role to play in ridding the body of waste and we will break down their roles. The kidneys are one of the most important organs in the body and this is because they help filter impurities from the blood and are responsible for urine production. The ureters transport urine to the bladder from the kidneys where the urine is stored before it is eliminated as waste via the urethra. An infection can therefore occur in any of these urinary tract organs. Most UTIs affect the lower part of the tract which holds the bladder and urethra. This type of infection is known as cystitis and if not treated early, it could travel through the ureters into the kidneys causing a more serious infection known as pyelonephritis.

While bacteria are uncommon in urine, they can access the urinary tract through the skin surrounding the anus. The common bacteria found in the intestines are E. coli and they cause many UTIs. The good news is that UTIs caused by bacteria are not contagious. Besides bacteria, some viruses could also bring about UTIs.

Girls are more affected by these infections when compared to boys and this especially occurs when they are in age of being taught to use the toilet. The urethra in girls is not only shorter but much closer to the anus. When it comes to boys, uncircumcised boys of a young age (mostly less than 1 year old) have a higher likelihood of developing UTIs.

Other UTI risk factors include:

  • A family history of urinary tract infections
  • Poor hygiene
  • Poor toilet habits
  • Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). This is a condition present at birth which is characterized by an abnormal flow urine, whereby the urine flows backward from the bladder to the ureters and kidneys. Between 30% and 50% of children suffering from UTI are said to have this condition.
  • Abnormal urinary tract function or structure. For example, an obstruction within the urinary tract or a malformed kidney.

How to Treat UTI in Toddlers

UTI can be treated and treatment is most effective when diagnosed early. If left untreated especially in children, UTI could damage the kidneys.

If your young one has UTI, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection. Mostly, your doctor will prescribe a drug that will kill the bacteria suspected to cause the infection. A culture test will be conducted to identify the cause and the doctor may change the prescription depending on the bacteria causing the infection to give your child a more effective treatment. Besides antibiotics, fluids go a long way in helping fight infections.

The intake of the antibiotics will differ depending on the severity of the UTI. In serious infections, the doctor may chose to administer the antibiotics through injections, while in less dire cases, oral medication will be prescribed. The doses will also vary depending on the drug prescribed. While some will have single daily doses, other medication must be taken up to 4 times a day.

While your child’s health will improve after a few doses, its important to finish the entire dose to ensure that the bacteria is completely eliminated.

Look for more information about natural remedies for UTI in toddlers? Check out the video below:

How to Prevent UTI in Toddlers



Proper toilet habits

Proper toilet habits can help prevent UTIs. Teach your young one to wipe herself from front to back to avoid introducing bacteria to the vagina. Wiping vigorously irritates the genitals, making it easier for bacteria to enter the urethra.

Stick with cotton underwear

Cotton absorbs moisture and prevents bacterial growth. You can also let your child sleep without underwear and also make sure that you change her immediately an accident occurs.

Increase fluid intake

Unless your child is well hydrated, he or she will not have enough urine production to flush out bacteria. Encourage fluids especially those that are low in sugar. Cranberry juice is said to help relieve UTI, as it has compounds which prevent bacteria from getting stuck in the walls of the urethra and bladder.

Encourage bathroom visits

Encourage toddlers to urinate more frequently, as this helps flush out their urinary tract system. Pooping should also be encouraged to avoid constipation. When one has constipation, they naturally don’t pee as much as they should.

Avoid perfumed soaps

Bubble baths and perfumed soaps in general may inflame the genitals especially in young girls, making it easier for bacteria to access the urethra.