“UTIs are very common in children. Kids can get them at any age as they grow,” says Dr. Khoury, medical director of pediatric urology at CHOC. “What’s important for parents to remember is that UTI is a generic term. The urinary tract starts with the kidney and goes all the way to the urethra opening where we urinate from. When we think about a UTI, there is a big difference between a child with a kidney infection versus a child with an infection of the bladder.” Dr. Khoury says the most common UTI in girls is a bladder infection, caused by bacteria in the bladder. The most serious is when the bacteria ascends to the kidney and causes kidney infections. These are associated with high fevers, and the children may become very sick and need intravenous antibiotics in the hospital.
Does my child have a UTI? Common Symptoms
It’s harder to diagnose a UTI in a baby who can’t talk versus an older child who can tell you what’s wrong. Noticing symptoms are important so you’ll know when to take your child to the doctor. Dr. Khoury says the most common symptoms of a UTI in a baby or child include: a fever of unknown origin; frequent urination; urgency of urination (or the child says he can’t hold it); a hot or burning feeling during urination; and occasionally, blood in the urine.
Drink up! The importance of water
For children and adults, water is one of the most important parts of any diet. When we don’t drink enough water, our bodies can’t function at their best. When we get dehydrated, we feel tired and less able to think clearly, and our bodies can’t cool off as well either. Water is also an essential part of the diet to help prevent urinary tract infections. As a guideline, Dr. Khoury says children ages 1-8 should drink the same number of 8-ounce cups of water as their age. So, a three-year-old should drink three cups of water daily; a six-year-old should consume six cups. Kids 9 and older should drink 8 cups of water daily. (These guidelines are for water only and do not include other beverages a child may drink in a day.)
- Risk of developing a UTI during childhood: Girls: 8% and Boys: 2%
- Number of children who will visit a doctor’s office annually for a UTI: 1.3 million +
- Percentage of children in the U.S. affected by UTIs annually: 3%
This article was featured in the Orange County Register on July 15, 2014, and was written by Amy Bentley.
Featured pediatric expert
Ain Shams University Medical School in Cairo, Egypt
Dr. Khoury is the medical director of pediatric urology at CHOC and a world-renowned specialist in pediatric urology. Dr. Khoury completed his residency in urology at the University of Toronto in Canada. He completed a clinical fellowship and a research fellowship in pediatric urology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, followed by a research fellowship at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, in the area of biomaterial-related infections.
Dr. Khoury’s philosophy of care: “I take a very analytical approach to the patient’s
medical issues and listen to the family. With that in mind, I tailor my diagnostic
studies and surgical intervention to the patient’s needs without putting them at risk for under-investigation or overtreatement.”