Your child may need some tests at the clinic or hospital. These tests help find out whether your child has a health condition, and the best treatment. For children with a kidney condition, the tests can find out how well a treatment is working. They can also see if there is damage to their kidneys or othe parts of their body.

One very common test is a urine test. Your doctor or nurse will ask you to collect a sample of your child’s urine (wee) in a small, sterile (completely clean) pot. They will test the urine using a chemically treated paper called a dipstick. This can show whether there are certain substances in the blood, such as proteins and blood cells. The sample may also be sent to a laboratory for more tests.

This topic gives you information about:

  • what a urine test is
  • why your child may need a urine test
  • how urine samples are collected in babies and children
  • 24-hour urine tests
  • what the urine tests are looking for
  • how to test your child’s urine at home if needed.

About the urinary system

The urinary system gets rid of things that the body no longer needs, so that we can grow and stay healthy.

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs. They filter blood to remove extra water and waste in urine (wee). Most of us have two kidneys. They are at the back on either side of our spine (backbone), near the bottom edge of our ribs.

The two ureters are long tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

The bladder is a bag that stores urine until we are ready to urinate. It sits low down in the pelvis.

The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.

Urine is mostly made up of water. It also contains many chemicals, including waste products and extra minerals that our body no longer needs.

Why does my child need a urine test?

Your nurse or doctor will tell you why your child is having a urine test, and when you will get the results. 

Common reasons for testing urine in children include:

  • to find out more about their general health
  • to find out whether they have a condition or an infection, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • to check how well their kidneys are working (kidney function)
  • for children who have a kidney condition, to find out whether their kidney function is getting worse
  • to check whether treatment is working.

Getting urine samples

Your child’s doctor or nurse will give you a sterile container to collect the urine sample. You may need to do this at the clinic, or take the container home and bring it back.

When getting a urine sample, it is important to make sure it is not contaminated. This means that there is dirt or bacteria in the urine sample. 

When to get the urine sample

Your doctor or nurse will let you know if you need to get the urine sample at a certain time of day. You may be asked to get the first morning urine. This is the urine that your child passes when they first wake up in the morning and go to the toilet.

Tips to help

Some children find getting a urine sample embarrassing or difficult. Here are some tips.

  • Explain to your child why they need a urine test.
  • They may drink lots of fluids (like water) before to help them wee more easily.
  • For babies and young children, you may like to have someone help you.
  • If your child has pain when weeing, you may be able to help by encouraging them to think about another part of their body.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse whether they have any special equipment, such as a bedpan or a bag to hide the container.

Returning the urine sample

When you have collected the urine sample, you may need to write your child’s name, and any other information required, such as his or her date of birth and today’s date, on the container label. (Your doctor or nurse may do this for you – they will let you know.) 

Return the urine sample to your doctor or nurse as soon as possible. This should usually be within 2 hours, but your doctor or nurse will let you know.

If you cannot hand in the sample within 2 hours, put the sealed container of urine into a plastic bag, and store it in a fridge (not freezer) for up to 24 hours. If possible, take it to the clinic in a cool box or bag.

24-hour urine sample

It is sometimes useful to know how much urine a child is passing, or how much of a substance is in their urine, over one whole day. You may be asked to provide a 24-hour urine sample. This means you will need to get every drop of your child’s urine over 24 hours (one day and one night).

About the tests and results

Examining urine to help diagnose diseases is called urinalysis. There are different stages of urinalysis.

Testing urine at home

Some children need to have their urine tested at home for a certain amount of time. You will need to collect a urine sample, test it with a dipstick and record the results to bring to the next clinic visit.

Blood tests

Urine tests may be used alongside blood tests to find out more information about your child’s health.