Raising an infant can be difficult. You are always second guessing if a symptom is something that will just pass or if you should take your child to the doctor. A strong urine smell from your infant is most likely a sign of a urinary tract infection, or UTI. According to Kids Health, about 8 percent of girls and 1 to 2 percent of boys have had a UTI by the time they are 5 years old. If your child has a strong urine smell you should see your doctor to determine the cause and treatment needed.
UTI is caused when bacteria infects the urinary tract, which is made up of the kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra. These organs each play a role in removing liquid waste from the body. Bacteria can easily enter the urinary tract from the skin around the anus. Bacterial UTIs are not contagious.
In infants and young children, a UTI may be hard to detect because the symptoms are less specific. Sometimes, a fever is the only sign of a UTI in an infant. Infants may seem irritable, begin to feed poorly or vomit. Your infant's urine may have a foul smell and may look cloudy or contain blood.
UTIs are more often seen in girls because the urethra is shorter and closer to the anus. Uncircumcised boys younger than 1 year are also at a higher risk for developing a UTI. Other risk factors include an abnormality in the structure of the urinary tract, the use of bubble baths or a family history of UTIs. According to Kids Health, 30 to 50 percent of infants with a UTI are found to have vesicoureteral reflux. This condition is present at birth and is when the infant has an abnormal backward flow of urine from the bladder toward the kidneys.
UTIs are treatable and it is important to catch them early. Treatment for a UTI includes an antibiotic for your infant. Untreated UTIs may lead to kidney damage, especially in children younger than 6.
Frequent diaper changes can prevent the spread of bacteria in infants. It is important to wipe your girl from front to rear to prevent germs from spreading from the rectum to the urethra. Other prevention includes avoiding bubble baths and washing hands prior to changing your infant's diaper to avoid the spread of bacteria.