Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection caused by bacteria (germs) getting into the urinary tract. The urinary tract is a term for those parts of the body involved in making and passing urine, which include the kidneys, bladder, ureters (tubes which connect the kidneys and bladder) and the urethra (tube through which the urine exits the body).

Urinary tract infections in children are fairly common and can affect the lower tract (bladder) or the upper tract (kidney). By 5 years old, about 8% of girls and 1-2% of boys have had at least one UTI.

 
What are the causes and signs of UTIs?

Some causes of UTIs in children include poor toilet and hygiene habits (not wiping from front to back or cleaning the bottom area thoroughly), the use of bubble baths or strongly scented soaps that can irritate the urethra and lead to holding onto urine, a family history of UTIs, or vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) when urine flows backwards from the bladder to the ureters and kidneys.

In older children, UTIs may cause obvious complaints such as burning or pain with urination (peeing) but UTIs may be harder to detect in infants and young children because symptoms are less specific.  

Be sure to contact your doctor if your child has any of these symptoms:
  • persistent fever of unknown cause [100.4° Fahrenheit (38° Celsius) rectally in infants, or over 101° Fahrenheit (38.3° Celsius) in children]
  • burning or pain when urinating
  • frequent or urgent urination, and frequent urination at night
  • strong-smelling, cloudy or bloody urine
  • abdominal (especially below the navel), back or side pain

Sometimes, a fever is the only sign of a UTI.

 
How are UTIs treated?

After performing a physical exam and asking about symptoms, your child’s primary care doctor will take a urine sample to check for and identify bacteria causing the infection.

If your child has a UTI, the infection will usually be treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Your doctor may refer your child for additional tests and an appointment with our Nemours pediatric urologists who specialize in treating both simple and complex urologic problems in children.

Urine Test: Calcium

What It Is

A urine calcium test is done to determine how much of the mineral calcium is being excreted in the urine by the kidneys.

Why It's Done

A urine test for calcium is often done to:

  • help determine the cause of kidney stones and other kidney diseases
  • detect overactivity or underactivity in the parathyroid glands (glands in the neck that produce hormones that help control the level of calcium in the blood)
  • monitor disorders of the kidney and diseases of calcium metabolism

Results may also point to digestive disorders that interfere with the small intestine's ability to absorb nutrients. The urine calcium test is usually used in combination with other tests to make a specific diagnosis.

Preparation

The doctor might prescribe a special diet with high or low levels of calcium for a few days before the test. Your child might need to temporarily stop taking specific drugs, such as antacids, that affect calcium levels in the urine.

The Procedure

Collecting the specimen should only take a few minutes. Your child will be asked to urinate into a clean sample cup in the doctor's office. If your child isn't potty trained and can't urinate into a cup, a small catheter may need to be inserted into the bladder to obtain the urine specimen.

Alternatively, a urine collection bag with adhesive tape on one end may be used to collect a sample from an infant. You'll clean your baby's genital area and then arrange the bag around the urinary opening. Once the bag is in place, secure it with the attached tape. You can then put a diaper on your baby. Check your baby's collection bag and remove it after your child has urinated, usually within an hour.

After you bring the sample to the lab, technicians will analyze it for calcium content.

What to Expect

Because the test involves normal urination, there shouldn't be any discomfort as long as your child can provide a urine specimen.

Getting the Results

The results of the urine calcium test are usually available in 1-2 days. Your doctor will go over the results with you and explain what they mean. If abnormalities are found, your doctor may may want to do further tests to make a specific diagnosis.

Risks

Infants may occasionally experience skin irritation from the adhesive tape on the collection bag. If a catheter is used to obtain the urine, it may cause temporary discomfort. If you have any questions or concerns about this procedure, talk to your doctor.

Helping Your Child

Urine collections are usually painless. Explaining how the test will be conducted and why it's being done can help ease any fear. Make sure your child understands that there should be no foreign matter, such as toilet paper or hair, in the sample.

If You Have Questions

If you have questions about the urine calcium test, speak with your doctor.

Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: February 2012