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Urinary Problems and Injuries, Age 11 and Younger - Topic Overview

Many things can affect urine color, including fluid balance, diet, medicines, and diseases. How dark or light the color is tells you how much water is in it. Vitamin B supplements can turn urine bright yellow. Some medicines, blackberries, beets, rhubarb, or blood in the urine can turn urine red-brown.

Some foods (such as asparagus), vitamins, and antibiotics (such as penicillin) can cause urine to have a different odor. A sweet, fruity odor may be caused by uncontrolled diabetes. A urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause a bad odor.

Babies and very young children who have UTIs often have symptoms that do not seem specific to the urinary tract. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever, especially without other signs of infections, such as a cough or runny nose. In babies, fever may be the only symptom of a urinary tract infection.
  • Frequent or infrequent urination.
  • Strong or bad-smelling urine.
  • Dark or blood-streaked urine. Note: It is common for newborns to pass some pink urine in the first 3 days of life. This may be from crystals in the urine. Parents will notice a pink color to the urine in the diaper.
  • Lack of interest in eating or refusing food.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Squirming and irritability.
  • Diaper rash that doesn't go away.

Young children who have a UTI usually have symptoms that are more clearly related to the urinary tract. Symptoms may include:

  • Burning with urination (dysuria). This is the most common symptom of a urinary tract infection.
  • Fever.
  • Frequent need to urinate (frequency) without being able to pass much urine.
  • A strong desire to urinate (urgency).
  • Strong or bad-smelling urine.
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria). Note: Urine may look pink, red, or brown.
  • Belly pain.
  • Pain in the flank, which is felt just below the rib cage and above the waist on one or both sides of the back.
  • Vomiting.
  • Discharge from the vagina.
  • Sudden, new daytime wetting after a child has been toilet trained.

UTIs are caused when bacteria, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), which are normally present in the digestive tract, enter the urinary tract. Two common types of UTIs are:

  • Bladder infections, which occur when bacteria get into the bladder by traveling up the urethra.
  • Kidney infections, which usually occur when bacteria get into a kidney by traveling from the bladder up the ureters. Kidney infection also may occur if bacteria from an infection in another part of the body travel to the kidneys through the bloodstream.
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