• By Jane Hart, MD

Cranberry Juice May Also Prevent Kid UTIs

Many adults are aware of the benefits of cranberry juice in preventing urinary tract infections, and now a study in Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests that cranberry juice may also be good for preventing kids’ urinary tract infections, reducing the need for antibiotic prescriptions in kids who are susceptible.

Cranberries contain plant chemicals that help prevent infection by stopping the growth of bacteria

Juice benefits

In this study, 263 children from 1 to 16 years old who had been previously treated for urinary tract infections were randomly assigned to receive cranberry juice (5 ml per kg of body weight, up to 300 ml per day) or placebo juice for six months. Researchers looked at whether or not cranberry juice helped prevent urinary tract infections in these children for one year starting at the time of the intervention. Results showed:

  • 20 children (16%) in the cranberry group and 28 (22%) in the placebo group had at least one recurrent urinary tract infection
  • Children in the cranberry group had a total of 27 urinary tract infection episodes and the placebo group had 47 episodes
  • The children in the cranberry group had significantly fewer days (12 days) on antibiotics throughout the year compared with the placebo group (18 days)
  • 16 (13%) children in the cranberry group dropped out of the study and 11 (9%) children in the placebo group dropped out; the most common reason for dropping out was not wanting to drink the juice

The study authors comment that in children without serious abnormalities of their urinary tract, “cranberry juice seems to offer an alternative to antimicrobials for preventing urinary tract infections in children who are susceptible to recurrences.”

The study reveals that getting children to take the juice can be a challenge, but as parents well know, getting a child to take antibiotics can also be a challenge.

Cranberry juice a natural alternative to antibiotics

  • Urinary tract infections are common in kids, and according to the study authors, 19% to 30% of children will experience a recurrence within one year of their initial infection. These recurrences mean more antibiotics for kids and some may take antibiotics preventively. But long-term and/or preventive antibiotic use may lead to health problems and bacterial resistance. This is why researchers, doctors, and consumers are interested in nutritional and natural options with fewer side effects, such as cranberry juice, to help prevent such infections.
  • Cranberries contain plant chemicals that help prevent infection by stopping the growth of bacteria and through other actions. Interestingly, the study authors state that the benefits of cranberry juice may not happen in the urinary tract but rather in the gut where cranberry juice helps shift the types of bacteria in the body to types that are less likely to cause infection.
  • If your child suffers from recurrent urinary tract infections, see a knowledgeable doctor to discuss natural options that may help reduce the number of infections and the amount of antibiotics that your child must take.
(Clin Infect Dis 2012;54:340–6)

Jane Hart, MD

Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.

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