Most urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract from the skin around the anus or the vagina, according to Healthline. Girls are more susceptible because their urethra is shorter and closer to the anus, making it easier for the bacteria to enter the urethra.
The most common cause of urinary tract infections, or UTIs, is Escherichia coli bacteria, which originate in the intestines, explains Healthline. Other causes include a blockage or structural deformity in the urinary tract; wiping back-to-front after a bowel movement; infrequent urination or delaying urination for long periods of time; bubble baths; and tight-fitting clothes. Infants and young children who have UTIs often have vesicoureteral reflux, the backward flow of urine from the bladder into the kidneys, adds WebMD. The risk of future UTIs increases with each additional infection.
Symptoms of UTIs in children include foul-smelling, cloudy, or pink, red or brown-colored urine; unexplained fever; vomiting; vaginal discharge; and pain just below the rib cage on one or both sides of the back, states WebMD. Untreated UTIs in children can lead to serious complications, such as kidney damage and high blood pressure. Parents should seek medical attention within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.