Health Team

Study: Antibiotics Don’t Prevent UTIs in Children

Posted July 10, 2007

If a young child gets recurrent urinary tract infections, pediatric experts recommend antibiotics all the time to stop the infections. However, a new study of children aged 6 and younger indicates that treatment may not be effective.

Virginia Summers said that her 2-year-old daughter, Lailani, has suffers from recurrent UTIs. Lailani takes medications, including antibiotics intended to prevent recurrent UTIs, said her mother.

“I'm not very happy about it, because she's on lots of medications. She's been on a lot of them since this has been going on, and she's only 2 years old, you know?” said Summers.

A new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that these antibiotics failed to prevent UTIs.

“In fact, when children did get those infections, they were more likely to be antibiotic resistant,” said Dr. Patrick Conway of the University of Pennsylvania.

Researchers said the antibiotics also didn’t work for children like Lailani who have bladder reflux.

“Bladder reflux is when urine comes up from the bladder toward the kidneys,” said Conway.

Pediatric experts thought children with bladder reflux had a higher risk of recurrent UTIs, but the study found no evidence for that.

The researchers used electronic health records to identify more than 600 children with their first UTIs. They then tracked the children for 13 months to record any recurrent infections.

Researchers concluded that antibiotics did not help to prevent UTIs in children with or without bladder reflux and that constant treatment with antibiotics may even have made infections down the road harder to treat.

“The results are concerning, and we want to obviously do the right thing and make sure we give kids medications that they need,” said Dr. Ron Keren, the study author and a pediatrician who has treated hundreds of children for UTIs.

Keren advises parents to first watch for symptoms of infection and then to treat the infection with antibiotics. Symptoms include pain during urination, frequency of urination and fever.

Summers said that such a treatment program for Lailani appeals to her.

“I'd be very happy to get her off the medications and rather wait for her to have something medically wrong with her, instead of treating her for something she doesn't have at this point,” said Summers.


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  • Irie Jul 12, 2007

    My daughter is 4 years old and started having uti's at the age of 2, she has bladder reflux. She has been on the same antibiotic for the past two years and has not had one until I stop the antibiotic, when I stoped the antibiotic two different times in the two years she got a uti immediatly after. Her antibiotic works.

  • ladyblue Jul 11, 2007

    Cransberry juice is good but PikeMom hit it on the head and I'm a elderly.. Blowdry area after bathing helps also per my doctor. 30 years uti free.

  • PikeMom Jul 11, 2007

    I don't know of anyone who thought antibiotics would "prevent" infections to begin with.
    Nothing works as good as learning how to wipe correctly,don't sit in bath tub (esp. with bubbles)no powder,and as the elderly will tell you ,get cotton crotch underwear(preferably white). And last but not least,Please don't use fabric softener if you are sensitive to having any infection on your bottom area.

  • Arkansas Razorback Jul 11, 2007

    Blueberries help painful knees too.

  • whatelseisnew Jul 11, 2007

    Maybe someone can pass this along to the mother. My daughter used to have infections. Her doctor recommended that she drink lots of cranberry juice. So we switched from apple and orange juice to just cranberry juice (8 t 12 ounces daily) and she did not have any recurrances of infections.