Doctors order urine tests for kids to make sure that the kidneys and certain other organs are working as they should, or when they think that a child might have an infection in the kidneys, bladder, or other parts of the urinary tract. The kidneys make urine (pee) as they filter wastes from the bloodstream, while leaving substances in the blood that the body needs, like protein and glucose. So when urine contains glucose, too much protein, or has other irregularities, it can be a sign of a health problem. Urinalysis A urinalysis is usually ordered when a doctor suspects that a child has a urinary tract infection (UTI) or a health problem that can cause an abnormality in the urine. This test can measure: the presence of red and white blood cells the presence of bacteria or other organisms the presence of substances, such as glucose, that usually shouldn't be found in the urine the pH, which shows how acidic or basic the urine is the concentration of the urine Sometimes, when the urine contains white blood cells or protein, or the test results seem abnormal for another reason, it's because of how or when the urine was collected. For example, a dehydrated child may have concentrated (darker) urine or a small amount of protein in the urine. But that might not mean that there's a health problem. Once the child is rehydrated, these "abnormal" results may disappear. Depending on the amount of protein or other cells in the urine, the doctor may repeat the urine test at another time, just to make sure that everything is back to normal. How a Urinalysis Is Done In most cases, urine is collected in a clean container, then a small plastic strip that has patches of chemicals on it (the dipstick) is placed in the urine. The patches change color to indicate things like the presence of white blood cells or glucose. Next, the doctor or laboratory technologist also usually examines the same urine sample under a microscope to check for other substances that indicate different conditions. If the dipstick test or the microscopic test shows white blood cells, red blood cells, or bacteria (possible signs of a kidney or bladder infection), the doctor may send the urine to a lab for a urine culture to identify the bacteria that may be causing the infection. Getting a urine sample. It can be difficult to get urine samples from kids to test for a possible infection. That's because the skin around the urinary opening (urethra) normally is home to some of the same bacteria that cause UTIs. If these bacteria contaminate the urine, the doctors might not be able to use the sample to tell if there is a true infection or not. To avoid this, the skin surrounding the urinary opening has to be cleaned and rinsed immediately before the urine is collected. In this "clean-catch" method, the patient (or parent) cleans the skin, the child then urinates, stops momentarily (if the child is old enough to cooperate), then urinates again into the collection container. Catching the urine in "midstream" is the goal. In some cases (for instance, if a child is not toilet trained), the doctor or nurse will insert a catheter (a narrow, soft tube) through the urinary tract opening into the bladder to get the urine sample. In certain situations, a sterile bag can be placed around a baby’s diaper area to collect a urine sample. If you have any questions about urine tests, talk with your doctor. Back to Articles Related Articles Getting a Urine Test (Video) If your doctor wants a urine sample, he or she means pee. It's easy to give a sample. Watch how this test is done in this video for kids. Read More Urine Test (Video) This video shows what it's like to get a urine test. Read More Urinary Tract Infections A urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common reasons that teens visit a doctor. Learn about the symptoms of UTIs, how they're treated, and more in this article. Read More Blood in the Urine (Hematuria) Hematuria is pretty common, and most of the time it's not serious. Find out what causes blood in the urine and what to do about it. Read More A to Z: Cystitis Learn about cystitis (inflammation of the bladder, commonly called a bladder infection). It is the most common type of urinary tract infection (UTI). Read More Your Urinary System You pee every day, but what makes it happen? Find out in this article for kids about the urinary system. Read More Vesicoureteral Reflux (VUR) This problem with the urinary tract causes urine to flow backward from the bladder to the kidneys. Most cases can be treated effectively, and many kids outgrow the condition. Read More Blood in the Urine (Hematuria) If your child has blood in the urine, don't panic. Most of the time it's not serious. Find out what causes it and what to do about it. Read More Urine Test: Creatinine Low levels of creatinine in the urine may point to a kidney disease, certain muscular and neuromuscular disorders, or an obstruction of the urinary tract. Read More Urine Test: Microalbumin-to-Creatinine Ratio The microalbumin-to-creatinine ratio test is most commonly used to screen for kidney problems in teens with diabetes. It may also be used to monitor kidney function in kids and teens who have a kidney disease. Read More Kidney Diseases in Childhood The kidneys play a critical role in health. When something goes wrong, it could indicate a kidney disease. What are kidney diseases, and how can they be treated? Read More Kidneys and Urinary Tract The kidneys perform several functions that are essential to health, the most important of which are to filter blood and produce urine. Read More Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections and Related Conditions Recurrent urinary tract infections can cause kidney damage if left untreated, especially in kids under age 6. Here's how to recognize the symptom of UTIs and get help for your child. Read More Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in kids. They're easy to treat and usually clear up in a week or so. Read More Your Kidneys You need at least one kidney to live. Find out why in this article for kids. Read More Urine Test: Automated Dipstick Urinalysis Automated dipstick urinalysis results may point to a urinary tract infection (UTI) or injury, kidney disease, or diabetes. Read More Kidneys and Urinary Tract The bean-shaped kidneys, each about the size of a child's fist, are essential to our health. Their most important role is to filter blood and produce urine. Read More Urine Test: Calcium A urine calcium test can help monitor or determine the cause of kidney stones and other kidney diseases, or detect overactivity or underactivity in the parathyroid glands. Read More Urine Test: Dipstick A urine dipstick test is often done as part of an overall urinalysis. The results of this test can help doctors diagnose a urinary tract infection (UTI), kidney disease, diabetes, or a urinary tract injury. Read More Urine Test: Microscopic Urinalysis A microscopic urinalysis can help detect a urinary tract infection (UTI), kidney problems, diabetes, or a urinary tract injury. Read More Urine Test: 24-Hour Analysis for Kidney Stones This test can show if certain substances are found at high concentrations in the urine, and might be causing kidney stones. Read More Urine Test: Protein The urine protein test is most commonly used to screen for kidney disease and also can help monitor kidney function. Read More Urine Test: Routine Culture A urine culture is used to diagnose a urinary tract infection (UTI) and determine what kinds of germs are causing it. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.