When you think of toddler problems, most moms jump to thoughts of sticky hands, runny noses, and potty accidents. But what if your little one seems to have something more serious going on? When you're a parent, you don't exactly assume your young child will develop typical "grown-up" health problems, but sometimes they do. If your child complains of back pain or pain while urinating, you might wonder if toddlers can get kidney infections. Unfortunately, the answer is yes, but here's what experts say you need to know.
The good news is, kidney infections developing in young children are extremely rare. Dr. Daniel Ganjian, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, says these types of infections occur in only less than 1 percent of children. "Girls and uncircumcised boys are the most at risk for developing a kidney infection, especially if there is an untreated UTI or kidney defects," he tells Romper. And according to Director of Pediatric Nephrology at New York-Presbyterian Komansky Children's Hospital and Weill Cornell Medicine, Dr. Eduardo Perelstein, it's pretty common for a toddler to get a UTI, which can then lead to a kidney infection.
So, what should parents look out for if they do suspect a kidney infection? Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, says that the symptoms are pretty clear. "Children will have vomiting and a fever. They may also complain of back, stomach, and urinary pain," she tells Romper.
But Perelstein says that there are some other more subtle symptoms in children, like urinating more frequently, or more "accidents." If your kid's already potty trained and you notice more bedwetting incidents than before, this could be a sign of an infection. "Sometimes they may still feel like they need to pee right after they finished peeing. Urine may smell very bad — not just 'strong ammonia' but rather like 'rotten eggs' — and it may look funny, either dark or cloudy or bloody," he adds. If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure you get your child to the doctor right away.
While UTIs and kidney infections are no fun, they are treatable. Posner says these infections often "require antibiotics administered via an IV, but sometimes they can be treated with intramuscular antibiotics or taken orally if they can keep the medicine down." So it's important to get your little one in to see a doctor right away.
While all of this info may be a little scary, the good news is that UTIs and kidney infections can also be prevented. "Prevention of UTIs is basically achieved by adequate hygiene, and by giving lots of fluids by mouth," Perelstein says. It's not always easy keeping kids clean all the time and making sure they're drinking plenty of water, but it's helpful to know these tips may prevent some serious infections in your kids.