About urinary tract infections (UTIs)
UTIs are quite common in babies.
Children who have abnormalities in the structure of their kidneys or urinary tract are more likely to get UTIs. But if your young child gets a UTI, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they have an abnormality of the urinary tract.
Symptoms of urinary tract infections in babies
In babies, the symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs) can look like the symptoms of many other health issues.
If your child has a UTI, they might:
- have an unexplained fever
- be irritable and cry a lot
- lose their appetite
- be unusually drowsy
- have poor weight gain
- have blood in their nappy.
UTIs in older children are different from UTIs in babies and toddlers. If your older child has a urinary tract infection, it might sting when they urinate, or they might feel they need to urinate a lot.
Does your baby need to see a doctor about a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
Yes. You should take your baby to the GP or go to a hospital emergency department straight away if they have a high, unexplained fever or are generally unwell.
Tests for urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Doctors need to test your child’s urine to diagnose a urinary tract infection (UTI). Your doctor might get you to catch some of your child’s urine in a clean specimen jar. Or your doctor might use a catheter or needle to collect a urine sample.
Some children, particularly boys less than 3 months old and children who are very unwell with a UTI, need an ultrasound to make sure there are no problems in their urinary tracts. If a problem is identified, your child might be referred to a paediatrician, urologist or renal physician.
Treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Babies under 3 months usually need to have antibiotics directly into a vein through a drip to treat a urinary tract infection (UTI). This means they need to be treated in hospital.
Babies older than 3 months can usually be treated at home with oral antibiotics.
Your doctor will check your child’s urine again after treatment to make sure the infection has cleared up.
If there are any concerns about how your child’s urinary tract is working, your doctor might refer your child to a specialist for further advice and treatment.
If your baby needs hospital treatment for a UTI, it can be quite upsetting. It might help to know that most babies get over UTIs quickly and don’t need ongoing treatment.
Preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs)
It’s difficult to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) in babies.
Good nappy hygiene might help. For example, it might help to:
- change nappies as soon as you can after your child does a poo
- wipe from front to back.