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Preventing Bladder Infections

You made it through potty training only to discover you're up against a whole new challenge: cystitis, or bladder infection.

Cystitis is the most common type of urinary tract infection (UTI) among young children. As toddlers, girls develop it more often than boys, partly because their rectums and urethra openings are close together, making it easier for germs to spread. Kids who are constipated are also more likely to get cystitis.

See your pediatrician if your child has a fever along with urine that has a strong smell, is cloudy, or is blood-streaked, says Hilary Hotchkiss, M.D., a pediatric nephrologist at the Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ. But you might also want to get your child checked out if she has more subtle signs, such as tummy aches, a need to urinate often or urgently, or potty accidents long after she's toilet trained. It's important to treat UTIs right away (doctors usually prescribe oral antibiotics), since untreated infections can lead to kidney scarring.

To prevent them, teach your daughter to:

  • Urinate at least every three hours; stagnant urine breeds bacteria, and kids often forget to pee.
  • Wipe from front to back after using the toilet.