Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): How to identify it in children

It may be surprising to learn that Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) does not occur only in adults, but it is also common amongst babies and children.

What Causes UTI In Children?

UTI occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract from the skin surrounding the genitals and this is usually caused by improper cleaning and soiled particles coming into contact with a child’s genitals. Certain inborn abnormalities of the urinary tract can also predispose children to get UTIs.

This condition occurs more frequently in girls than boys due to the differences in the urethra (the tube where the urine comes out of the body). Girls have shorter urethras as compared to boys, making it easier for bacteria to get into the bladder.

What Are Some Symptoms Of UTI?

It can be difficult to tell if your child has UTI, as the symptoms may overlap with other illnesses. Your young child may not be able to communicate and express their symptoms. Look out for the following symptoms in your child:

  • Fever without any other apparent symptoms like cough or runny nose
  • Pain and burning sensation when passing urine
  • Passing urine more often than usual
  • Urgency of passing urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Blood in urine

In severe cases, the symptoms can include fever, nausea or vomiting, and irritability.

If your child experiences any of these symptoms, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

UTI Diagnosis And Treatment

With prompt medical attention and antibiotics, UTI can be effectively treated. Seek medical advice and share your child’s symptoms with your doctor. The doctor will conduct a physical examination and arrange for a sample of your child’s urine to be tested. These tests will help the doctor identify what is causing the infection and recommend a treatment plan for your child.

If your child is less than two years old, your doctor may refer you to a paediatrician.

Our paediatricians are available at Raffles Children’s Centre – Raffles Hospital, Raffles Juniors Waterway Point, Raffles Children’s Centre – Tampines 1, and Raffles Children’s Centre – Raffles Holland V.

How long does it take for children to recover from UTI?

Most cases of UTI in children clear up within 48 hours of treatment. The treatment plan usually involves your child taking a course of antibiotics, consuming plenty of fluids, and getting enough rest. If your child does not show signs of improvement, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Depending on the situation, a scan may be necessary after your child recovers from his/her UTI. This is to assess the kidneys and urinary tract. If necessary, your doctor will advise you accordingly and arrange for the scan.

To ensure that your child has fully recovered, visit your doctor for a return appointment.

How can we prevent UTI in children?

Follow these tips to reduce your child’s risk of developing UTI:

  • Ensure that your child practises good hygiene when using the toilet
  • Encourage girls to wipe their bottom from the front to back
  • Avoid hot bubble baths with scented bath products
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Ensure that your child is well hydrated
  • Encourage your child to go to the toilet regularly
  • If your child has constipation, see a doctor for advice and treatment

What should I do if my child has UTI again?

If your child has had a UTI previously, it is important for parents to take note of the return of any of the associated symptoms.

For recurring UTIs, see a paediatrician at Raffles Children's Centre to identify the cause(s).

Make An Appointment

Make an appointment to consult a paediatrician at a children's clinic near you. Select "Specialist Appointment". Under Specialist Appointment Details, select "paediatric medicine" or "paediatric surgery".

Make an enquiry. We will get back to you within 2 working days. You can reach us at 6311 1588.

Contact Raffles Children's Centre

Make an enquiry if you require more information.

Our staff will get back to you within 2 working days.