When a child has a UTI, doctors often check for vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), a condition that causes urine to flow backward -- and which is a factor in more than a third of childhood UTIs. If a child does have VUR, doctors routinely have been recommending long-term, low-dose antibiotics to ward off future infections. Experts now say that this treatment is ineffective and can even increase the risk of antibiotic-resistant infections.
Kids with recurrent UTIs caused by VUR or other factors (like constipation, genetics, or simply holding pee in) may not need long-term meds. Another option is to watch for symptoms, get a urine test, and then, if it's positive, treat the UTI with a short (seven- to ten-day) course of antibiotics.
What should you do if your child is found to have VUR? Ask for a urologist to take over the case. If the condition isn't serious, the urologist may take a wait-and-see approach to treatment.
UTIs may seem like a grown-up thing, but they're one of the most common infections in kids under 6. Tips to prevent them, from Patrick Conway, M.D., pediatrician at Cincinnati Children's Hospital:
- Wipe your child from front to back and teach her to do the same. (Girls and uncircumcised baby boys are at higher risk and need to be extra careful.)
- Limit caffeinated and sugary drinks, which are linked to UTIs, and offer more water.
How to spot them:
- Older kids will tell you: "Mommy, it hurts when I pee."
- For younger children, look out for fever, vomiting, and irritability.