Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

Urinary tract infections (UTI). UTIs are typically caused by bacteria, such as E. coli. Most UTIs occur in the lower urinary tract, in the bladder and urethra, and they can cause pain during urination and a fever. Treatment with antibiotics should be started as soon as possible so the infection doesn't spread to the kidneys, where it can cause irreversible damage. In babies, UTIs tend to be more common in boys than girls, perhaps because boys are more affected by congenital kidney problems that predispose them to infection. Later in life, girls are more likely to get UTIs because of their shorter urethras. Bad habits can contribute to UTIs — kids holding it when they need to go to the bathroom, or wiping themselves in the wrong direction after using the toilet (they should wipe from front to back so bacteria from the stool do not get into the urethra). Among teens, girls are more likely to develop UTIs than boys, mostly due to the shorter urethra or sexual activity with a full bladder.

Congenital problems with the urinary tract: As a child develops in the womb, a part of the urinary tract can grow to an abnormal size or in an abnormal shape or position. These problems include:

  • duplication of the ureters, in which a kidney has two ureters instead of one. This can lead to urinary tract infections over time and can be treated with medication or occasionally with surgery.
  • horseshoe kidney, where the two kidneys are fused (connected) into one arched kidney that usually functions normally, but is more prone to develop problems later in life. An uncomplicated horseshoe kidney does not need medical or surgical treatment, but it does need to be checked regularly by doctors.