A urine infection or bladder infection in babies can be attributed to bacterial growth in the bladder, and, in some cases, the kidneys. In approximately 30% of urine infection cases in babies and toddlers, the cause stems from an underlying structural error in the urinary system. Naturally, it can be downright scary for parents to watch their child suffer from miserable urine infection symptoms. In several cases, pediatricians might even recommend further tests such as an X-ray or ultrasound for determining the cause of frequent urine infection in babies.
Let us study toddler urine infection symptoms, causes and treatment options in detail.
Bladder infection symptoms in babies and toddlers
It is now estimated that nearly 8% girls and 2% boys will develop child urine infection symptoms at least once in their lifetime. The symptoms typically include:
- Pain or burning sensation while urinating
- The urge to urinate frequently-though hardly producing any urine. Only a few drops of urine might be produced.
- Stomach or abdominal pain
- The child may be cranky, irritable, or cry constantly
- Vomiting and diarrhea are also some symptoms of child urine infections.
- Parents might notice foul smelling urine which may also be cloudy due to pus in it.
- Babies with urine infection might show signs of distress while peeing.
- There may be poor weight gain in babies.
Often the signs and symptoms of child urine infections could be nonspecific and variable. Typically, school-aged children have the same urine infection symptoms as those in adults such as dysuria (not able to produce much urine), hematuria (blood in urine) as well as urinary urgency and frequency.
Diagnosing child urine infections
In most cases, physicians might perform a physical exam such as palpating the abdomen to determine presence of a mass that might be obstructing flow of urine. Fecal impaction is a typical example of such mass that leads to blockage in urine. In girls, labial adhesions or vulvovaginitis as well as presence of foreign objects could cause secondary urine infections.
Next, a urine culture may be performed, though in most emergency room visits, urine samples are not feasible. In cases where urine sample is obtained, the exact pathogen can be noted based on which the doctor will recommend the correct antibiotics.
In babies showing symptoms of bladder infections, collecting urine samples is often an uphill task. Parents could attempt to catch urine in sterilized clear jars or plastic bags.If this is not possible, the emergency room nurse could collect a sample by inserting fine needle or tube through the abdomen and into the bladder. The complete results of urine sample testing may not be available for 48 hours, though a urine dipstick can give initial diagnosis.
Treating urine infections in children and babies
In very sick babies showing urine infection symptoms, the doctor might not wait for the lab results but might start the baby on antibiotics immediately, usually Trimethoprim. The dose and number of days for which the medicine needs to be administered must be followed strictly. If the child does not show any improvement in symptoms, the medicine will have to be changed or the dosage adjusted. By this time, the laboratory results will also be available which will show the doctor whether the present pathogen is insensitive to the antibiotic chosen and also the right drug to be used.
The antibiotic must be administered for at least 5 days or as prescribed.
What to expect after urine infection treatment in children
Some doctors might recommend further testing to ensure that the child’s kidneys are fine and unaffected by the bladder infection. If any abnormalities are found, further testing and medication may be indicated. Ultrasound testing is also needed in case of babies having frequent bladder infection symptoms.
In most boys, bladder infections rarely recur. If they do, they will usually occur right after the first one. Most girls definitely suffer from regular infections. This does not always indicate that there is something seriously wrong; though it does indicate that further testing is necessary. Many children and babies suffering regularly from bladder infection symptoms might even require low dose antibiotic treatment to reduce chances of further infections.
Preventing UTIs in babies and toddlers
- Keep the child well hydrated.
- Encourage toddlers to empty their bladder frequently. Talk to the teacher at school to allow the toddler easy access to clean toilets.
- Treat underlying health issues- particularly constipation.
- Encourage girls to follow the front to back wiping action after having bowel movement. Use gentle bath soaps and gels that will not irritate her urinary tract.
- Use absorbent and soft toilet tissue paper.
- To prevent urine infections in babies, continue breastfeeding as long as you can. Talk to your doctor about circumcising the boy child, as this has some evidence of preventing UTIs.
- If the baby has started eating solids, ensure a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (as recommended by the doctor) to prevent constipation.
If you are suspecting urinary tract infection symptoms in your toddler or baby, call the doctor immediately.