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Urine collection - infants

Urine collection - infants refers to the method of getting a urine sample from a baby for testing purposes. It is usually done in a doctor's office, but can be done at home.

How the test is performed

Thoroughly wash the area around the urethra using soap, or cleansing wipes that your health care provider gave you. Clean from the front to the back on a female infant, and from the tip of the penis down on a male infant.

You will be given a special bag to collect the urine. It will be a plastic bag with a sticky strip on one end, made to fit over your baby's genital area. Open this bag and place it on the infant.

  • For males, place the entire penis in the bag and attach the adhesive to the skin.
  • For females, place the bag over the labia.

Put a diaper securely over the bag. For active infants, this procedure may take a couple of attempts -- lively infants can displace the bag.

Check your baby often and remove the bag after the infant has urinated into it.

Drain the urine into a sterile container and give it to the health care provider as directed. Do not touch the inside of the cup or lid. If at home, place the container in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you return it to your health care provider.

How to prepare for the test

There is no preparation for the test. If you collect the urine at home, you might need a couple of extra collection bags.

How the test will feel

There is no discomfort.

Why the test is performed

The test is performed to get a urine specimen from an infant.

Normal Values

Normal values depend on what tests will be performed on the urine after it is collected.

What the risks are

There aren't really any risks. Rarely, the infant might get a mild skin rash from the adhesive on the collection bag. Bag urine specimens aren't best for urine cultures because they can become contaminated.

Special considerations

Try to return the specimen to the health care provider as soon as possible.

In children under age 3, the discovery of a urinary tract infection is very important, as it may be a sign of a problem with the structure of the urinary tract. However, even with proper cleansing, collecting urine with a bag is not recommended for evaluation of urinary tract infections. There is a high likelihood of contamination with bacteria from the skin and (in girls) the vagina. In these cases, a catheterized urine sample is better because it is more accurate.

Updated: 8/2/2011

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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