Urinary Tract Infection In Children
Colchester General Hospital
01206 746208 or 746209
Children’s Assessment Unit
Children’s Emergency Unit
What do I need to know?
This digital leaflet is about the care and treatment of babies, children and young people with a urinary tract infection. It aims to help you understand the care and treatment options available to your child. It is based on guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
The urinary tract is made up of the kidneys, the bladder, the ureter (the tube that links the kidneys to the bladder) and the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. A UTI is a bacterial infection of the urinary tract. It is important to diagnose and treat a UTI quickly. Occasionally, a UTI which affects the kidneys (doctors call this an upper urinary tract infection) may lead to permanent kidney damage if it is not treated.
It can sometimes be difficult for healthcare professionals, parents and carers to know whether a child has a UTI, especially in babies and young children. This is because a child with a UTI may be generally unwell. There may not be any symptoms or signs that suggest the illness is due to a UTI.
These are all possible symptoms or signs of a UTI.
General signs that your child is unwell:
- not feeding well
- not gaining weight properly
- jaundice (infants only).
Specific signs of a UTI:
- pain when passing urine
- needing to pass urine frequently
- tummy pain
- pain in the side
- unpleasant smelling urine
- blood in the urine.
If the doctor suspects your child may have a UTI, they will ask to test a sample of your child’s urine to confirm whether or not there is an infection.
Collecting a urine sample from a child can sometimes be difficult, especially in young children and babies.
- ensure your child’s groin area is clean and there is no visible sign of stool
- the urine is collected in a sterile urine specimen bottle
- catch the urine by holding the bottle in the stream of urine while your child is urinating
- make sure you don’t touch the open rim of the bottle because this could affect the quality of the sample
- cotton wool balls, gauze and sanitary towels should not be used to collect urine in infants and children.
Once the urine sample has been collected, it can be tested to see whether your child has a UTI. The testing can be done in two ways, either by dipping a dipstick into the sample or by sending the sample to the laboratory to be looked at under a microscope. The most appropriate method will depend on your child’s age and symptoms.
UTIs are treated with antibiotics. If the urine test shows that your child has a UTI, your doctor may ask some more detailed questions about symptoms and any family history of bladder or kidney problems, and examine your child’s tummy. This is a good time to tell your healthcare professional about any urinary tract problems that may have showed up on ultrasound before your baby was born.
Your doctor will also check for serious illness or infection by asking questions and doing an examination which might include checking your child’s pulse and breathing rate.
If your child is younger than three months, or if they are at risk of becoming seriously ill, they will be referred immediately to a paediatric specialist (a hospital doctor who cares for children).
The paediatric specialist will choose the best antibiotic treatment for your child, and this may include intravenous (IV) antibiotic treatment. IV antibiotic treatment is when liquid antibiotics are given directly into a vein through a needle.
For babies and children who are three months or older with an infection that does not involve the kidneys, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics for three days. If your child is still unwell after 24-48 hours, you should return for further assessment and a review of treatment.
For babies and children who are three months or older with a kidney infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for seven to ten days. Your child may also have to stay in hospital for a few days.
Most UTIs clear up within one to two days from the start of antibiotic treatment. If your child does not seem to be any better after 24-48 hours, you should go to your GP. It is very important that your child finishes the course of medicine.
Babies and children who are 6 months or older, who respond well to treatment and do not have any other unusual features, do not need any further tests unless they have further UTIs.
For some children, the doctor may recommend an ultrasound scan. The scan is painless, and lets them see an image of the Child’s kidneys and bladder to make sure everything is working properly. This may be done within a few days or up to 6 weeks after the original infection.
Following the ultrasound scan, the doctor may also recommend further tests to see if there are any problems with your child’s bladder or kidneys. If your child needs any further tests, you will be given more information about the tests and what they involve.
- what do these tests involve?
- how long will I have to wait until my child has these tests?
- how long will it take to get the results of these tests?
- where will these be done?
- will my child need to have them in hospital?
- will my child be admitted to hospital for these tests, or can they be done at an outpatient?appointment?
If your child has a scan, a doctor should explain what the likely results will be. If the results are normal, you should be sent the results in a letter and there may be no need to return to the hospital.
UTIs can happen again. To help prevent another UTI, any problems such as constipation should be treated. It is helpful to encourage your child to drink enough fluids. They should also be encouraged to use the toilet as soon as they feel the need to, rather than being expected to wait.
Further UTIs are common and parents, carers (and children and young people where appropriate) should be aware of the importance of seeking medical advice straight away if you think your child has another UTI.
Colchester General Hospital 01206 747474
Children’s Ward 01206 742152
Children’s Day Unit 01206 742156
Accident and Emergency Department 01206 742112
When you attend hospital you will be asked to confirm your first and last names, date of birth, postcode and NHS number if you know it, and to let us know if you have any allergies.
Please raise any concerns in the ward or department you are in. Ask to speak with the ward sister, matron or department manager. If your concerns cannot be resolved or you wish to make a formal complaint, please call PALS (Patient Advice & Liaison Service) on 0800 783 7328 or pick up a PALS leaflet.
If you or a family member has recently been in Colchester General Hospital, you can tell us about your experience by searching for ‘Colchester’ on the NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk), by writing to the address on the front of this leaflet, by emailing your comments to [email protected] or by filling in a ‘Friends and Family’ questionnaire at the hospital.