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Are potty accidents caused by a bladder infection?

My two and a half year old has recently started having multiple urine accidents a day at daycare. When at home it seems like she waits until the last minute and then tries to go and she basically wets herself.

She's been potty trained since 15 months as it's just becoming frustrating as this is happening more often. Could she have a bladder infection or something? It also seems like she is going more frequently but has never mentioned any pain.

Karen K. Meyer | Pediatrician

Karen K. Meyer

UTIs are uncommon in children younger than age 3 to 5, and unlikely in boys at any age, unless an obstruction is present. They are much more common in girls as a result of a shorter urinary tract.

Normal urine is sterile and contains fluids, salts, and waste products. It is free of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. An infection occurs when microorganisms, usually bacteria from the digestive tract, cling to the opening of the urethra, travel up into the bladder and/or kidney, and begin to multiply.

Most infections arise from Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, which normally live in the colon.

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include:

  • Foul-smelling urine

  • Incontinence during day and/or night

  • Frequent urination

  • Painful or difficult urination

  • Small amount of urine while voiding despite feeling of urgency

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Fatigue

Your daughter certainly could have a bladder infection, which would explain her wetting accidents. Children don't have to have painful urination to have a bladder infection and symptoms can be what you are describing. 

You should take her to the doctor and get a urinalysis as well as a urine culture done to determine if this is the case, so that she can be treated with antibiotics. If she does not have an infection, then other possibilities can be explored.

Read more answers by Dr. Meyer