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Urinary tract infections in infants and children older than one month: Clinical features and diagnosis

Nader Shaikh, MD
Alejandro Hoberman, MD
Section Editors
Morven S Edwards, MD
Tej K Mattoo, MD, DCH, FRCP
Deputy Editor
Mary M Torchia, MD


Urinary tract infections (UTI) are a common and important clinical problem in childhood. Upper UTI (ie, acute pyelonephritis) may lead to renal scarring, hypertension, and end-stage renal disease. Although children with pyelonephritis tend to present with fever, it is often difficult on clinical grounds to distinguish cystitis from pyelonephritis, particularly in young children (those younger than two years) [1]. As a result, we have defined UTI broadly here without attempting to distinguish cystitis from pyelonephritis. Acute cystitis in older children is discussed separately. (See "Acute cystitis: Clinical features and diagnosis in children older than two years and adolescents".)

The clinical features and diagnosis of UTI in children will be discussed here. The epidemiology, risk factors, and management of UTI in children and UTI in newborns (younger than one month of age) are discussed separately. (See "Urinary tract infections in children: Epidemiology and risk factors" and "Urinary tract infections in infants older than one month and young children: Acute management, imaging, and prognosis" and "Urinary tract infections in children: Long-term management and prevention" and "Urinary tract infections in neonates".)


UTI may present with nonspecific symptoms and signs, particularly in infants and young children.

Younger children — In a meta-analysis of the diagnostic accuracy of the symptoms and signs of UTI in children younger than two years, the following findings were the most helpful in identifying children with UTI [2]:

History of UTI (likelihood ratio [LR] 2.3)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 05, 2017.
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