Bladder Home > Urinary Tract Infection in Children

Each year, about 3 percent of American children will have a urinary tract infection. In children, this condition may be the result of an abnormality in the urinary tract. Symptoms in children may include unexplained fever, irritability, not eating normally, and incontinence. Recognizing and treating urinary tract infections is important because if left untreated, such infections can lead to serious kidney problems.

Urinary Tract Infection in Children: An Introduction

In the United States, urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect about 3 percent of children and account for more than 1 million visits to pediatricians' offices each year. Throughout childhood, girls have an 8 percent risk of developing a urinary tract infection, while boys have a 2 percent risk of developing a UTI.
 
In children, urinary tract infection symptoms are not always obvious to parents, and younger children are usually unable to describe how they feel. Recognizing and treating such infections is important because untreated UTIs can lead to serious kidney problems that could threaten the life of your child.
 

Understanding the Urinary System

The role of the kidneys is to filter and remove waste and water from the blood to produce urine. The urine travels from the kidneys down two narrow tubes called the ureters. The urine is then stored in a balloon-like organ called the bladder.
 
In a child, the bladder can hold about 1 to 1½ ounces of urine for each year of the child's age. When the bladder empties, a muscle called the sphincter relaxes and urine flows out of the body through the urethra, a tube at the bottom of the bladder. The opening of the urethra is at the end of the penis in boys and in front of the vagina in girls.
 
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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