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How are UTIs Diagnosed in Children?

If you think your child has a UTI, call your health care provider. The only way to diagnose a UTI is with a urine test. Your health care provider will collect a urine sample. The method your health care provider uses will depend on your child's age and maturity. If your toddler is not toilet-trained, your health care provider may simply attach a plastic bag to your child’s skin to collect the sample. If your child is older, you may be asked to help catch the sample as your child urinates. It is important to keep bacteria from the skin from getting into the sample. Your health care provider may need to pass a small tube into the urethra or a needle into the lower belly to collect a good sample from inside the bladder.

The urine sample is examined under a microscope. If there is an infection, your health care provider may be able to see bacteria and pus (white blood cells). This test takes only a few minutes. The health care provider may also order a urine culture, where bacteria from the urine are grown in a lab incubator. The bacteria can then be identified and tested to see which drugs will work best. Many kinds of bacteria can infect the urine, and different types of bacteria may need different types of antibiotics. It takes many days to get the results from the urine culture.