The doctor will ask about your baby's symptoms and do an examination. He may ask about a family history of UTIs because the tendency to get them can be genetically inherited.
If your baby's doctor suspects a UTI, he'll need to collect a urine sample and check it for infection and inflammation with a urinalysis and urine culture. It's important for the doctor to verify that your baby has an infection and determine which bacteria are causing it so he can prescribe the correct antibiotic.
The challenge is that the doctor needs to collect a "sterile" urine sample, or one that hasn't been contaminated by the bacteria that are always present on your baby's skin. This is hard to do with a baby or young child who can't urinate on command or follow special instructions.
Most likely, the doctor will use a catheter to obtain a sample. He'll clean your baby's genitals with a sterile solution and then thread a tube, or catheter, up the urethra to get urine straight from the bladder. Your baby may cry during this procedure, but it's safe and routine and – while it can be uncomfortable – usually takes less than a minute.
Another option, not used as often, is to collect urine directly from the bladder by inserting a needle into the lower abdomen.
The doctor may be able to get preliminary results by using a urine dipstick or by examining the urine under a microscope in the office. If he sees evidence of infection from these initial results, he may start treatment right away. If he sends the sample to a lab for testing, it may take a day or two to get the results.
The doctor may recommend other tests, as well, because UTIs can be a sign that there's something wrong with your baby's urinary tract. Problems that cause UTIs include blockages and a condition called vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), in which urine from the bladder backs up into the kidneys. VUR is found in 30 to 40 percent of babies and young children who have UTIs.
The tests that your baby's doctor may recommend include:
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