By the time your baby is 8 months old, the two of you have developed your own ways of communicating. While it mostly revolves around body language, you can usually tell if she’s not feeling well. With endless reasons for her discomfort and no way for her to tell you what’s wrong, you’re left to play detective by looking for signs and symptoms to determine if it’s just teething pain or something needing treatment -- such as a urinary tract infection.
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Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are fairly common in babies and develop when the one or all of the parts of the urinary tract become contaminated with bacteria. In the beginning stages of a UTI, there often are no symptoms at all. A telltale sign of any infection, including a UTI, is a fever with no other symptoms such as cough or runny nose.
As a UTI develops, more symptoms will start to appear, including your baby showing discomfort when urinating. You may notice his urine looks different or even see some blood in his diaper, and his urine might have a bad smell to it. These are potential indicators he has a urinary tract infection. If you notice any of these changes, he’ll need to see a doctor as soon as possible to be tested for a UTI.
Urinary tract infections are easily treated with antibiotics and will not go away on their own. Left untreated, the bacteria can spread into the kidneys, leading to more severe symptoms including abdominal pain, chills, vomiting and fever above 100.4 degrees. Once the infection reaches the kidneys, it can still be treated over a longer course of time; when untreated, it can lead to kidney damage.
Cutting Down On Infections
While UTIs are common in all children, girls have a higher risk because the urethra is closer to the anus in girls, making it easier for fecal matter to find its way into the urinary tract. Boys who are circumcised have a slightly lower risk than boys who aren’t. Overall, UTIs effect 8 percent of children of all sexes. To lower the chances of your baby getting a UTI, take simple measures such as changing soiled diapers promptly to avoid bacteria growth. And wipe from the front to back, especially in girls, to avoid bringing bacteria from the anus to the urethra.
If your child is experiencing symptoms of a UTI, prompt medical care is needed to avoid complications. If a UTI is suspected, a urine test can provide your answer. Also, talk to your doctor if you notice frequent UTI infections, which can be signs of another underlying medical issue.