It is often confusing for parents when their infant has a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Diagnosing a UTI
After all, a baby can't complain of typical UTI symptoms, such as painful urination, and you can't really tell if she is having accidents. Instead, infants with a UTI may just have fever, irritability, vomiting, and urine that may have an odor. In fact, an unexplained fever with no other symptoms at all may be the only symptom of your child's UTI.
The other complicating factor when it is suspected that an infant might have a UTI is that she typically can't urinate in a sterile cup to give you a urine sample to send for testing. Instead, your pediatrician will likely have to insert a small catheter into your baby's bladder to get a urine sample.
Treating a UTI isn't too confusing. Your baby will likely just need ten days of an oral antibiotic. Sometimes, if your baby has a high fever or is very irritable and your pediatrician suspects that she may also have a kidney infection (pyelonephritis), she may need intravenous antibiotics in the hospital.
Either way, what happens after a child is treated for the UTI can again confuse parents.
Most experts believe that children who have a UTI are at risk for having vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), a condition in which urine flows backwards, from the bladder back to the kidneys. This puts an infant at risk for kidney infection and kidney damage.
To see if an infant with a UTI has this type of reflux, a renal sonogram and voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) may be performed to examine the kidneys and urinary tract.
Fortunately, most children outgrow their VUR over several years. Those who don't can have it repaired using a classic open surgical procedure or a newer Deflux endoscopic procedure.