Children's Hospital Colorado

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection along the urinary tract. It may involve the urethra, the bladder or the kidneys.

Normal urine is sterile and contains fluids, salts and waste products and it should be free from bacteria, viruses and fungi. An infection occurs when bacteria cling to the urethra and travel upwards towards the bladder, where they multiply quickly.

If your child is experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, see your provider. If your child has had recurrent UTIs, please have your child evaluated in the Urology Program at Children's Hospital Colorado.

What causes urinary tract infections?

Most infections are caused by an organism known as Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is normally found in the colon (bowel).

UTI prevention includes ensuring your child is urinating regularly (about every 2 to 3 hours) and is taking the time to completely empty the bladder in a relaxed fashion.

Teach your child to wipe their bottom from front to back. If your child is uncircumcised, teach him to retract the foreskin and clean himself. The foreskin should retract easily; if not, do not forcibly retract. Do not allow the foreskin to stay retracted for long periods, as this may cause pain and possible injury.

Who gets urinary tract infections?

Urinary tract infections are uncommon in children who are not yet toilet trained. If this should occur in your child, a medical evaluation will likely be performed, including radiology scans, to determine the issue.

Most infections occur in children who are working through potty training, or afterwards, as they are more likely to have abnormal voiding patterns or trouble with hygiene. Infections are also more likely in females because females have a shorter urethra that is more susceptible to ascending bacteria. Males who are uncircumcised have a higher rate of UTI in the first year of life. Children with a blockage of the urinary tract are also more likely to develop infections. Sometimes urinary tract infections can run in families.

Get to know our pediatric experts.

Brian Caldwell, MD

Brian Caldwell, MD

Urology - Pediatric, Urology

Ty Higuchi, MD, PhD

Ty Higuchi, MD, PhD

Urology

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Kyle Rove, MD

Kyle Rove, MD

Urology - Pediatric, Urology

Adriana Behr, CPNP, RN

Adriana Behr, CPNP, RN

Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner