What Is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the body’s urinary system, which includes the kidneys, ureter, bladder, and urethra. UTIs are divided into two types of infections—lower tract (or bladder) infections, and upper tract (or kidney) infections. Hormonal changes during pregnancy predispose women to UTIs, with the highest risk for development of a UTI between week 6 of pregnancy and week 24 of pregnancy. Leaving a urinary tract infection untreated increases the risks of premature rupture of the membranes (PROM), preterm birth, cerebral palsy (CP), low birth weight, and perinatal death.
Whether your child’s cerebral palsy resulted from an untreated urinary tract infection or from another birth injury, a qualified and experienced Michigan Cerebral Palsy attorney can help you obtain compensation for your unanticipated medical expenses. To begin a free case review with our experienced Michigan birth injury lawyers, contact Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys in any of the following ways. Should our birth trauma lawyers take your case, you will not be charged until we win or settle in your favor.
- Call Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys toll-free at (888) 592-1857
- Contact our lawyers online by filling out this quick online form
- Live Chat with Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys by clicking the tab on the left
What Causes a UTI?
The urinary tract is responsible for clearing germs from the body. Since the uterus sits right above the bladder and expands during pregnancy, its weight and size can limit the passage of urine, ultimately causing an infection because these germs cannot leave a woman’s body. The following is a list of factors that can cause urinary tract infections:
- E. coli: 80% – 85% of UTIs are caused by E. coli bacteria from the bowel, which enter the bladder through the urethra.
- Staphylococcus (staph infections): 5% – 10% of UTIs are caused by staph infections, which usually occur as a result of blood borne infections.
- Viral or fungal infections occasionally cause UTIs.
Bacteria can enter the urinary tract through the following mechanisms:
- Sexual intercourse
- Catheters (tubes placed into the bladder to empty it)
- Stool that is wiped into the vagina
- Partial blockage of a urinary passage from the pressure of an enlarged uterus in many cases
What Are the Risk Factors for Urinary Tract Infections?
The following factors put pregnant women at a higher risk for developing UTIs. It is important for physicians to test for and treat women with the presence of these risk factors:
- Bladder infection
- Diabetes, including gestational diabetes
- Urinary catheters
- Spermicide use
- Sexual activity, primarily in young women
- Family history
What Injuries Are Associated with Untreated UTIs?
Because of the severity of the injuries associated with untreated urinary tract infections, physicians are obligated to closely monitor pregnant women for UTIs and test for infection at least three times during a pregnancy. The following injuries may result from an untreated urinary tract infection:
- Intrauterine growth restriction
- Low birth weight
- Premature Rupture of the Membranes (PROM): Untreated urinary tract infections may cause a woman’s water to break prematurely.
- Premature labor
- Preterm birth
- Cerebral palsy
- Preeclampsia and other hypertensive (high blood pressure) disorders of pregnancy
- Chorioamnionitis (intra-amniotic infection)
- Anemia (decreased red blood cell count)
- Fetal death
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection?
Symptoms of urinary tract infections may vary from mild to severe and last roughly six days. Signs and symptoms of a UTI include the following:
- Pain or burning when urinating
- A feeling of urgency during urination
- More frequent urination (or the need to urinate frequently even though the bladder is empty)
- Cramps or pain in lower abdomen
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Leaking of urine (incontinence)
- Urinating multiple times during sleeping hours
- Changes in the amount of urine
- Odorous, cloudy or bloody urine, or mucus in the urine
- Pain, pressure, or tenderness in the area of the bladder
- If bacteria has spread to the kidneys, symptoms include back pain, chills, fever, nausea and vomiting.
How Are Urinary Tract Infections Diagnosed?
Medical standards obligate doctors to treat urinary tract infections in pregnant woman. Since some UTIs occur without symptoms, it is standard medical practice to screen all pregnant women for the infection. Physicians can test for UTIs with urine tests, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that urine cultures be obtained at the first prenatal visit, again between 12 and 16 weeks, and once more during the third trimester.
How Are UTIs Treated?
Antibiotic regimens can treat prenatal urinary tract infections in ways that are safe for both the mother and baby. Because certain bacteria may develop resistances to particular antibiotics, doctors must run susceptibility tests to ensure the antibiotics work in eliminating the infection. UTIs have a high rate of recurrence in pregnant women, so doctors should closely monitor pregnant women with histories of urinary tract infection and continue taking frequent urine samples.
In the extreme case that a UTI develops into kidney infection, early and aggressive treatment is an important part of preventing complications. Kidney infection can lead to sepsis, preterm labor, and early delivery, so pregnant women should be hospitalized in these cases.
Legal Help Cerebral Palsy (CP) and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Due to the severe complications associated with urinary tract infections, it is vital that doctors immediately diagnose and treat infection in pregnant women. Failure to screen a pregnant woman for a urinary tract infection is considered negligence, and it is considered medical malpractice if the negligence leads to injury.
The following scenarios constitute negligence:
- Failure to perform antibiotic susceptibility testing for urinary tract infections
- Failure to perform tests to treat the UTI
- Failure to use appropriate antibiotics
- Failure to monitor the effects of the chosen antibiotic regimen and switch to different antibiotics if necessary
- Utilization of antibiotics that are harmful to the mother or fetus
We encourage you to contact an experienced Michigan cerebral palsy attorney at (888) 592-1857 if any of these violations of the standards of care occurred. We will help you determine if you and your child are eligible for compensation.
- Gibbs, Ronald Darnley; Sweet, Richard L. (2009). Infectious Diseases of the Female Genital Tract. Hagerstown, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Akyar I. [Antibiotic resistance rates of extended spectrum beta-lactamase producing Escherichia coli and Klebsiella spp. strains isolated from urinary tract infections in a private hospital]. Mikrobiyol Bul 2008; 42:713.
- Rodríguez-Baño J, Alcalá JC, Cisneros JM, et al. Community infections caused by extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli. Arch Intern Med 2008; 168:1897.
- Gilstrap LC 3rd, Ramin SM. Urinary tract infections during pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am 2001; 28:581.