According to the March of Dimes, up to 10% of expecting moms will get a urinary tract infection or UTI, during their pregnancies. Of these, about 25%, if left untreated, can develop into kidney infection, which can life-threatening for both mother and child. However, the good news is that as long as a UTI is caught early enough, it can be easily treated with antibiotics, right? Well, yes and no. While antibiotics can be a safe and effective treatment for UTIs, there are some new revealing studies that pregnant women will want to know about before taking them.
Antibiotics and Miscarriage
A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has found some eye opening links between antibiotics and miscarriage in pregnant women. The prevalence of UTIs in pregnant women and their likelihood to be treated with antibiotics make this an issue of concern. A study done by researchers at the Universite de Montreal collected data from 182,369 pregnant women in Quebec between the years of 1998 and 2009, 8,702 of which ended in miscarriage before the 20th week of pregnancy. Of these, 16 percent occurred after the women took antibiotics.
Antibiotics to Avoid
Although all of this may be enough to scare you off antibiotics during pregnancy entirely, you should know that there are some medications which are higher risk than others. The most dangerous drug classes are tetracyclines, which is used as a treatment for acne, and quinolones, which can be used on a variety of infections, and was a common culprit in causing miscarriage, increasing its likelihood by three times. Clarithromycin, prescribed for pneumonia and bronchitis multiplies the risk by two. Azithromycin, used for infections of the respiratory system and some STIs, increased the of miscarriage risk by 60%, while metronidazole, used to treat bacterial vaginosis, increased the chances by 70%. Trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole upped the risk by 25%.
While it may seem as if there are no safe alternatives, Sherry Ross ob-gyn at Providence Saint John’s Health Center has some insight on the subject: If you notice symptoms of UTI, you definitely want to inform your doctor; if left untreated they can lead to preterm birth, kidney infection, and preeclampsia. Your doctor should recommend going with safer antibiotics, such as nitrofurantion, cephalosporin, penicillin, and erythromycin. All of these are safe antibiotics with a broad range of uses. Ross says, “Most important is to make sure you discuss the pros and cons of UTI options with your obstetrician and ways to avoid recurrent infections during the rest of the pregnancy, If you are trying to conceive and are unsure of your pregnancy status, you would want to make sure you are taking the antibiotics not associated with an increase in miscarriage risk.”
Have you experience UTI during pregnancy? How did you handle it? What’s your expert advice? Let us know!