Protecting Your Baby From Urinary Tract Infections

6 min read

Written by Pradeep


To ensure a safe and healthy lifestyle for their child, the mother would take extra precautions – carefully picking out fruits and vegetables, sterilizing plates and utensils, keeping track of the child’s daily routine etc. They are also aware of the microorganisms that enter into the baby’s body through mouth, nose,and ears causing infections resulting in cold, fever, stomach upsets, earache, etc. Most of the mothers will take necessary precautions to shield their baby from those infections. However, even with all that, there is one thing that these mothers tend to forget. There is another hotspot for the microorganisms to enter the body – the urinary tract.
Urinary tract infection or UTI is a typical issue among babies who are under two years. Before their fifth birthday, around 8% of baby girls and around 1-2% of the baby are found to experience at least one UTI.
UTI in babies

  • Urinary Tract Infection In Babies
  • How Many Types Of Urinary Infections Are There?
  • What Are The Symptoms Of UTI In Babies?
  • What Causes Urinary Tract Infections In Babies?
  • Why Are Baby Girls More Prone To UTI Infections?
  • How Is UTI In Babies Treated?
  • How Can I Protect My Baby From Urinary Tract Infections?

Urinary Tract Infection In Babies

A urinary tract infection is an infection caused by the bacteria to the urinary tract of a child. The urinary tract consists of the kidney where the urine forms, the ureters (one tube that starts from each kidney) which carry urine from the kidney to the urinary bladder. The bladder stores urine until the body is prepared to expel it, and the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body.
Urinary tracts are generally divided into two types-

  1. Upper urinary tract: This consists of the kidney and ureter
  2. Lower urinary tract: This consists of urinary bladder and urethra

The urinary tract infection can happen anywhere along this tract. However, the lower part — the urethra and bladder — is most usually affected.

How Many Types Of Urinary Infections Are There?

Three types of UTIs are found to affect the children:

  1. Cystitis: A type of UTI in which the urinary bladder of the child is affected
  2. Pyelonephritis: In this type of UTI, child’s kidney is infected
  3. Urethritis: Here, urethra of the child is infected

Pyelonephritis is quite a serious condition in children, as it will damage the kidneys.

What Are The Symptoms Of UTI In Babies?

The signs of UTIs differ depending on the area of the infection and age of the kid. Here are some of the signs in children based on their age:

Symptoms Of Urinary Tract Infections In Babies
Babies aged under two months Babies above two months to two years old
Fever, Inability to thrive Fever
Vomiting Vomiting
Jaundice Pain in abdomen
Unexplained persisting irritability Unexplained persisting irritability
Not feeding satisfactorily Poor feeding and changes in appetite
Cloudy or bloody urine Strong odor of urine
Baby cries during urination Cries when urinating


What Causes Urinary Tract Infections In Babies?

Bacterial infection and abnormality in the urinary tract are the reasons that trigger UTI among the children. Bacteria, which usually dwell in the large intestine, will be present in the poop of the child. These bacteria have several chances to enter the urinary tract of the child. It can get into the urinary tract through the urethra or through lymph and blood.
If it enters the body through the urethra, the lower urinary tract is generally infected. If it gets into the body through lymph and blood, kidneys and bladder are mostly infected (which is more serious). In short, irrespective of the way the bacteria enter the urinary tract, if the urine carrying bacteria is not disposed off the body within a certain time (through urination), it brings out the UTI in children.
Here are some ways through which the bacteria get into the urinary tract of the baby:

  • An unchanged soiled diaper paves an easy way for the bacteria to enter the urinary tract through the urethra
  • After toilet training, if the baby girl does not clean the bottom properly, the chance of the infection increases as the urethra is much closer to the anus

Issues with the structure or function of the urinary tract can also cause UTIs in babies and young children. Issues that affect the body’s capacity to banish the urine from the body include:

  • Vesicoureteral reflux: The usual flow of urine starts from the kidney through ureters to the urinary bladder. This one-way flow happens because of a flap-like valve situated between the ureter and bladder. In some babies, due to several reasons, this valve will not work properly. This will result in a condition called vesicoureteral reflux, the reverse flow of the urine (from the bladder through the ureter into the kidney). If this happens, the bacteria that is present in the urine stored in the urinary bladder moves to the kidney through the ureter. This can result in the kidney infection, which is a really dangerous matter
  • Dysfunctional voiding: Some kids clutch the pee and delay setting off to the washroom. They hold the sphincter muscles tight to keep playing or doing what they are engaged in. When they are not able to wait longer, they hurry to the lavatory. However, most of the time, they may not be able to unwind their muscles enough to guarantee complete expelling of urine from the bladder. This causes urine to remain in the bladder, which may bring about bacterial development
  • Obstructions in the urinary tract: The flow of the urine can be obstructed due to any structural abnormalities in the urinary tract of the child. Kidney stones can also cause urinary blockage. This results in accumulation of urine in that part of the track, which can lead to an infection
  • Constipation: Kids who experience constipation are inclined to urinary tract infection. During constipation, the stool turns out to be hard and dry. This hardened stool applies pressure on the urinary tract, obstructing the flow of the urine. Therefore the chance of flourishing and multiplying of the bacteria increases, prompting the infection
  • Tight fitting bottom wears: Wearing tight fitted bottoms, especially for boys, can result in blocking urine and thereby increases the chances of UTI

Why Are Baby Girls More Prone To UTI Infections?

Baby girls are at a higher risk compared to baby boys in the light of the fact that the urethra of the girls is shorter and nearer to the rear-end (anus). Wiping and cleaning from back to front after a bowel movement (especially during the time of toilet training) increases the chances of infection in girls as it easier for microorganisms to enter the urinary tract.
UTI in babies

How Is UTI In Babies Treated?

Once your child shows the symptoms of UTI take your child to a pediatric nephrologist. UTIs are generally treated with antibiotics in liquid form for babies. The duration of medication and its dosage rely on the kind of bacteria that is bringing about the infection and how serious it is. After finishing a course of antibiotics, the kid’s doctor may redo the urine tests to confirm the infection is cleared. It is significant to ensure that the infection is cleared on the grounds that an incompletely treated UTI can reoccur more severely. Babies younger than 30 days old with UTIs typically need to be hospitalized for treatment.
There are several home treatments for the children for recovering fast from UTI and decreasing its discomforts.

  • Giving the babies barley water increases the frequency of urination (barley water is diuretic), thereby flushes out the bacteria
  • Pineapple fruit or its juice helps to alleviate the pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties
  • Cranberry juice with its antiseptic property can help with both preventing and treating the UTI in children

How Can I Protect My Baby From Urinary Tract Infections?

  • Change the diapers often: In newborn babies and toddlers, change the diapers as soon as they get wet. Remember, a wet diaper if not changed on time can be a hot bed of the microbes that cause UTIs
  • Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding can help to prevent UTI in the baby until they turn 6 months
  • Personal hygiene: At the point when children start to go toilet themselves, ask them to wash their hands thoroughly after cleaning their rear end
  • Proper wiping (for girls): Teach the girls to wipe from front to back, rather than back to front. This will help to keep germs from spreading from the rectum to the urethra
  • No bubble bath (for girls): Bubble bath increases the chances of the bacteria to get into the urethra
  • Never “hold it”: Boys and girls ought to be instructed not to “hold it” when they have an urge to urinate. Explain to them that if urine remains in the bladder for a long time, even after the urge ,germs will develop that cause extreme pain
  • No tight clothing: Make the kid wear cotton clothing, which is not too tight. Wearing tight clothes increases the chances of bacteria getting into the urethra
  • Make the child drink plenty of fluids: Encourage the child to drink plenty of fluids. Increased frequency of urination along with expelling the urine completely from the bladder decreases the chances of UTI. Keep in mind carbonated or caffeine drinks are not counting as fluids
  • Give them food rich in fiber: Fiber rich food help to keep constipation at bay. Constipation can trigger UTI in children

UTIs in babies are normally simple to treat. However, if left untreated, they can bring about long lasting kidney damage and even kidney failure. Studies proved that babies under age 2 are more prone to serious renal damage than the older ones. Therefore, it is important to diagnose and treat UTI in the baby at the earliest opportunity.


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