Kidney and Urologic Diseases Data Verified

Bladder Infection in Children - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Complications

Published on Sep 06, 2022   -  6 min read


A bladder infection occurs when bacteria enter the urinary system. It is commonly seen in newborns and young children. Read the article to learn more about it.

What Is a Bladder Infection In Children?

As the name suggests, a bladder infection or cystitis is a urinary bladder infection. Urinary tract infection is a term used to describe the infection that can occur in any urinary tract organ. A bladder infection can affect children at any age and needs to be treated at the earliest. Several healthy bacteria are present in the skin and the bowel, but they are not allowed to enter the urinary system. In the case of bladder infection in children, these bacteria enter the urinary tract through the skin or the stools. As a result, the child experiences fever, pain, and a burning sensation while passing urine. The condition might go unnoticed in infants as they cannot express their symptoms. As a result, the situation worsens and can cause permanent damage to the kidneys.

What Are the Causes of Bladder Infections in Children?

The infection usually occurs in three percent of boys and eight percent of girls by five years. Babies less than twelve months old, especially girls, are more likely to develop an infection than boys. The different causes of bladder infection are listed below:

  1. Bacterial Entry - The majority of the bacteria are expelled from the urine formed by the kidneys. However, the bacteria originating from the stomach or intestine threaten the urinary system, and one such bacteria is Escherichia coli (E. Coli).

  2. Vesicoureteral Reflux - When there is a change in the path of urine, that is, it flows from the bladder to the ureters; the condition is known as vesicoureteral reflux. It is commonly seen in children and infants and increases the risk of urinary tract infection because the urine remains within the body.

  3. Abnormal Bladder Habits - If the child has the habit of holding urine, does not empty the bladder, and urinates on the bed (bed-wetting), it creates a negative impact and reduces the abilities of the urinary system to fight infections.

  4. Being a Girl - In girls, the urethra is located close to the anus (the organ that allows the passage of stools), so the bacteria can quickly enter the urinary bladder through stools and cause infection.

What Are the Symptoms of Bladder Infections in Children?

The symptoms of urinary tract infections vary in babies or young children and older children. However, the babies usually present with the following symptoms:

The old children usually present with the following symptoms:

  • The infection is usually accompanied by fever.

  • The patient experiences pain in the lower back and abdominal region.

  • The urine flow is restricted so the patient can pass a few drops of urine each time.

  • Urinary incontinence or leakage of urine can occur in some children.

  • The urine appears cloudy and smells bad.

What Are the Methods Used to Diagnose Bladder Infection in Children?

The diagnosis of bladder infection is based on medical history, laboratory tests, and imaging tests. The medical history gives an idea about the symptoms of the condition, the time of their onset, and other conditions the child is suffering from. Imaging and laboratory tests help to confirm the diagnosis and start the treatment accordingly. The following tests are done to diagnose bladder infections in children:

  • Laboratory Tests - The following laboratory tests are done to detect infection:

    • Urinalysis - In this test, the child is required to collect the urine in a container. It is not possible for babies and small children to collect the urine in a container. Instead, a tube known as a catheter is inserted through the urethra, and the urine sample is collected. It is then examined in the laboratory under a microscope. The urine shows an increased number of bacteria and white blood cells in bladder infection.

    • Urine Culture - The child needs to collect the urine in a container or sterile bag provided by the hospital. The urine sample is then left for some days in the laboratory to allow the bacteria to grow. This test helps to identify the bacterial strain that caused an infection. The test results are positive if the bacteria are present in the urine; else, they are negative.

    • Blood Tests - The doctor recommends blood tests to check for infection in the body and the health of the kidneys.

  • Imaging Tests - The following imaging tests are done to detect infection:

    • Ultrasound - It is an imaging technique in which images of the urinary system are obtained, including the bladder and the kidneys. The advantage of this procedure is that the child is not exposed to X-ray radiation. Instead, the child is laid down on a table, and sound waves are sent to produce images of the organs. Next, the doctor moves the ultrasound probe over the abdomen and gets the images on the computer screen. The doctor then checks for blockage in the kidneys and ureters with the help of the images.

    • Voiding Cystourethrogram - This test is mainly done to check if the child is urinating correctly or if there is any backflow of urine from the bladder to the kidneys. In this procedure, a tube is passed into the bladder of the child, and a solution is injected through this tube into the bladder. X-rays are then taken from different angulations to monitor the functioning of the bladder. The doctor will check if any amount of solution is flowing backward to the kidney or if any blockage is present in the passage of urine.

How Is a Bladder Infection in Children Treated?

Antibiotics help treat bladder infections in children. The mode of administration of the drug depends upon the age of the child. If a child is two months old or above, antibiotics are administered by mouth as liquids (syrups). If a child is reluctant to take medications and is continuously vomiting, the drug is injected into the body through the veins. The infection usually subsides in two to three days, but the entire course of antibiotics needs to be completed. Therefore, the doctor might recommend the diagnostic tests again to check if the antibiotics have worked against the infection or not. The commonly used antibiotics are listed below:

  1. Cefixime.

  2. Cefprozil.

  3. Cephalexin.

  4. Amoxicillin and Clavulanic acid.

  5. Trimethoprim.

How to Prevent Bladder Infections in Children?

The following habits help prevent bladder infection:

  1. The parents need to make sure that the child drinks plenty of water. It is because water flushes out the bacteria from the body and helps to prevent infection.

  2. It has been noticed that children hold urine for long and do not urinate properly. As a result, the urine remains within the body and provides a medium for bacteria to grow, resulting in infection. Therefore, the parents need to develop healthy bowel and bladder habits in children, like urinating as soon as the need arises, emptying the bladder, and wiping from front to back after passing urine.

  3. If the bowel movements are irregular and the child suffers from constipation, the stools become hard and remain in the body. As a result, they increase pressure on the bladder and obstruct the flow of urine. It is important to have a healthy bowel movement to prevent infections.

  4. The diapers need to be changed at regular intervals for babies, and the area should be cleaned to keep it free of bacteria.

  5. If a child is suffering from bladder problems, kidney diseases, urinary tract obstruction, and other conditions, the parents need to consult the doctor at the earliest for treatment.

  6. The child needs to drink enough fluids and avoid canned juices and carbonated drinks. Instead, fresh fruit juices should be given to maintain optimum fluid levels.

What Are the Complications of Bladder Infections in Children?

The complications of bladder infections in children are listed below:

  • Kidney Damage - If the urinary tract infection is left untreated, scarring of the kidneys occurs, which can cause permanent damage to the kidneys.

  • Hypertension - If the kidneys get damaged, the waste products and toxins accumulate in the body resulting in a rise in blood pressure or hypertension.

  • Bladder Problems - The urinary bladder stores the urine temporarily. In the case of a bladder defect, the urine might leak out of the bladder (urinary incontinence). Children often urinate on the bed (bed-wetting) due to urinary incontinence.


Bladder infection or urinary tract infection is not a life-threatening condition but requires treatment at the earliest to avoid complications. Young children, especially infants and toddlers, cannot explain their symptoms, so the condition goes unnoticed in such cases. However, the parents must notice the signs of infection and report them to the doctor. The treatment comprises antibiotics that need to be taken as per the instructions given by the doctor. Along with antibiotics, drinking enough water and maintaining healthy bowel and bladder habits help prevent infections.


Last reviewed at:
06 Sep 2022  -  6 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

Why does my 9 months old daughter cry and become angry easily since she fell off the bed?

Query: Hi doctor, I have a nine-month-old daughter. She fell down from the bed yesterday. I do not know whether she got a hit in her head. I looked at her gently to see whether she has any signs of an injury. After making sure that there is no injury, I started consoling her because she started to cry u...  Read Full »

A Patient's Guide to Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections

Article Overview: Urinary tract infections are clinical bacterial infections involving the urinary system. Read the article to learn more. Read Article

Davie Wong
Davie Wong
HIV/AIDS Specialist

What Are Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections? Recurrent urinary tract infections are chronic urinary infections that either do not respond to treatment or keep recurring. In chronic urinary infections, the involvement of other organs of the urinary system is observed. The urinary system is made up of...  Read Article

Why do i keep getting urinary tract Infections?

Query: Hi doctor, I am a 51 year old male. I had a urinary tract infection, and it was diagnosed as coagulase-negative Staphylococci. The laboratory report advised using Macrobid or Cloxacillin. Two weeks ago, I had Sulfa drugs, a combination of Sulfamethoxazole and Trimethoprim and Macrobid. The infectio...  Read Full »

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Urinary Tract Infection or Bladder Infection In Children?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.