Health - Reuters
Safest to Treat Urinary Infection During Pregnancy
Thu Sep 19, 5:39 PM ETBy Emma Hitt, PhD

ATLANTA (Reuters Health) - Nearly one in four women with urinary tract infections (UTIs) during pregnancy may not fill their antibiotic prescriptions, which could increase their risk of having a child with mental retardation, according to new research.

Dr. Suzanne McDermott of the University of South Carolina and colleagues presented their findings here at the 1st Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( news - web sites) Conference on Birth Defects, Developmental Disabilities, and Disability and Health.

The researchers analyzed the relationship between UTIs with or without antibiotic treatment and mental retardation and fetal death.

Two data sets, representing roughly 42,000 South Carolina Medicaid pregnancies and about 42,000 pregnancies from the National Collaborative Perinatal Project (NCPP) were included in the analysis.

Among women on Medicaid, about 14% had UTIs and about 11% of women in the NCCP contracted a UTI during pregnancy.

The researchers found no link between UTIs and mental retardation risk when antibiotic prescriptions were filled. But among the 23% of women with UTIs who did not fill their prescriptions, the risk for mental retardation or developmental delay was increased by more than 40% in both the first and third trimesters compared to those who did fill their prescriptions.

And when a woman's medication status was unknown, the risk of fetal death associated with maternal UTI was doubled.

McDermott told Reuters Health that the bacterium enterococcus was the only bug for which risk was not eliminated by filling an antibiotic prescription.

"The drugs considered safe for treating UTIs during pregnancy may not be effective against enterococcus, so there is a need for the development of safe yet effective drugs against enterococcus," she said.

Although the study population consisted of poor women, noted McDermott, the problem of not filling antibiotic prescriptions is probably similar in the general population, based on other research her team has conducted.

She also speculated that one of the main reasons the prescriptions were not filled was because of concerns that antibiotics would harm the baby.

"Doctors need to explain that antibiotics will help, not hurt the baby, but not taking the antibiotics and leaving a UTI untreated might hurt the baby," she said.

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