Urinary tract infections (UTI's) in children are most frequently caused by bacteria. During the first few months of life, boys are more likely to get UTI's. Because the urethra is much shorter in girls than it is in boys, girls are more prone to getting infections as they get older, as are children who have anatomic abnormalities in the urinary tract. These infections can affect the bladder, ureters, or kidneys and if left untreated, may actually damage the kidneys. Signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection can include pain on urination, frequent urination, foul-smelling urine, fever, nausea, vomiting, and flank pain. In order to diagnose a urinary tract infection a physician will have to exam the child and analyze the child's urine. UTI's are usually treated with antibiotics, and the physician may request to see the child again in a few months to make sure the infection is gone.
In order to determine why the child got a UTI, the physician may order tests to see if urine flows from the bladder back into the ureters, whether there are abnormalities in the kidneys or the ureters, and how the kidneys and the urinary tract fill with fluid. If an abnormality of the urinary tract is found, the child may be placed on low-dose antibiotics for a long period of time or surgery may be needed to correct the abnormality.