What causes it?

Urinary tract infections are almost always caused by bacteria, especially a type called E.coli, which are normally found on the skin around the bottom and that come from the bowels.

In up to 50 per cent of cases there is some sort of structural abnormality that predisposes to infection. One of the commonest is a condition called vesicoureteric reflux, which affects the way the ureters join the bladder, allowing urine to reflux in the wrong direction back up the ureters towards the kidney.

Other predisposing factors include not going to the toilet often enough (causing the bladder to enlarge), hurrying in the toilet and not emptying the bladder fully, constipation, inflammation of the vulva (girls) or damage to the nerves to the bladder.

Who's affected?

Three per cent of girls and 1 per cent of boys have had a urinary tract infection by the time that they reach 11, and 50 per cent of them will have a recurrence within a year.

Girls are more vulnerable because the urethra is much shorter than in boys and bacteria can easily pass into the urinary tract. Children under the age of five are particularly vulnerable to scarring of the kidney.

What are the symptoms?

In older children, typical symptoms include fever, shivers, pain passing urine, the sensation of needing to pass urine frequently, pain in the abdomen or loins, vomiting and diarrhoea.

In younger children and babies there may not be any specific symptoms, simply a feverish, irritable or drowsy child who's off their feeds, vomiting or has diarrhoea.

How's it diagnosed and treated?

Get urgent medical advice. Infection is confirmed by examining a sample of urine in the laboratory for bacteria or white blood cells. Your doctor can show you how to take a urine sample from your child.

Treatment is with antibiotics and plenty of fluids to flush through the urinary system. In severe cases or small babies, hospital treatment may be necessary.

Further help

Scarring of the urinary tract can lead to long-term problems later in life such as high blood pressure or kidney failure. All children who have a diagnosed urinary tract infection should be thoroughly investigated. Tests include an ultrasound scan and specialised x-rays. Surgery may be necessary to repair structural problems such as reflux.

 

 
 
 
 
By Dr_Trisha-Macnair 01/29/2016 12:58:00

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