Kidney infection is also known as renal infection and is a type of urinary tract infection which is caused by bacteria known as E. coli bacteria. Treating the infection is necessary because it could lead to serious complications. According to the National Health Service (NHS), children under two years of age are more susceptible to kidney infections. 

Most kidney infections are caused by bacteria that live in the bowel. Despite the safeguards of immune defences, infection occurs when bacteria attach to the lining of the urinary tract. Kidney infections are difficult to diagnose in infants and young children as the symptoms are less specific. Sometimes, fever is the only sign.

The bacteria involved for kidney infection may have spread from the bladder to the urethra and from there to one of the kidneys, thus infecting the kidney. The affected person’s kidney could be damaged and poisoning or sepsis can also happen. This infection is treated with antibiotics in many cases and the patients have to be hospitalised most of the times. Children are also affected by kidney infection. 

Causes of kidney infection in babies

The bacteria are usually present only at the end of the urethra and on the skin around the opening of the urethra, and this does not usually cause any infection. When the harmful bacteria happen to get into the urinary tract then they may cause an infection, as these bacteria can get into the urinary tract at the opening of the urethra. Then form the urethra it travels to the kidney causing kidney infection. The medical term for this is pyelonephritis. 

Kidney infection is very serious leading to the damaging of the kidneys if they aren’t treated in time with medicines. Kidney infection can cause fever and child may feel pain in the side and the back. 

Having said all of this the main reason for a kidney infection is bad bathroom habits, and children are bound to take things easily and be careless. Here are some bad bathroom habits that cause the infection:

•  Not wiping the area of the genital.

•  Not urinating regularly, and holding urine for a long time.

•  Not emptying the bladder all the way.

•  When genitals are pressed by clothing while urinating.

The Problem of Diagnosing

The first thing that one must understand is that it is hard to diagnose kidney infection in babies and young children. This primarily happens because they are unable to tell us what they are going through or how they are feeling. For this reason it is necessary that a child who is experiencing unexplained fever for three or more days should be tested. Urinary tract infection could be the cause for this. In fact fever might be the only symptom that this baby is experiencing. 

For an older child it would be easier to tell when he or she is facing a problem, like the burning sensation when urinating. Your child will have fever, will be tired, and have nausea and vomit. Of course a fever could have been caused by many other problems like cold and allergy, so it is absolutely important that you take your child to get things checked.

Symptoms of kidney infection in babies


Children do not develop a high fever with a bladder infection, but slight increase in body temperature may persist throughout the illness. Fever may accompany chills or shivering. Not always a bladder infection turns into kidney infection, but parents must be wary of any signs of a kidney infection and report the same to a doctor.

Frequent urination

Children with kidney infection may have the urge to urinate more than usual. Moreover, they experience burning sensation or irritation while urinating. The burning comes from an irritated urethra. Frequent or painful urination is indicative of a simple bladder infection, but can also be present in a severe kidney infection.


Children suffering from a kidney infection might refuse to eat or drink and will often act irritable. Moreover, he/she may experience vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea. In young ones, there can be signs of jaundice (a yellowish colour).

Abdominal pain

If your kid is complaining of a stomach-ache more than often, he might have kidney infection. The abdomen of children with kidney infection is tender to touch. They may hold stomach often and remain uninterested in activities they usually enjoy.

Blood in urine

Children with kidney infection may get blood in their urine. Furthermore, their urine may be of a foul or strong smell. There could be pus in urine; in such a case parents must call a paediatrician or make an appointment to get your kid examined as soon as possible. Cramps can also be experienced in a child's lower back or lower abdomen.

Other symptoms

If your kid is extremely irritable, refuses to eat, has loose bowel movements and complains of other symptoms that seem more like a general illness, it can be a kidney infection. However, a child who has urination issues is most likely to be suffering from an infection. These symptoms shouldn’t be taken lightly and reported to the doctor as soon as possible.

Understanding and recognising the symptoms of kidney infection in children can help parents seek prompt medical treatment. Most of the times, kidney infections are not serious, however, they can be painful and eventually lead to more serious conditions such as permanent kidney damage and blood poisoning (sepsis). If a paediatrician suspects that a child has a kidney infection, he/she will prescribe a urine test to confirm it.