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How Common Spinal Cord Injury Urinary Tract Infections Can Affect Your Pregnancy

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2014 | Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injury (SCI) victims—especially those who are paralyzed from the waist down—often suffer from urinary tract infections (UTI). A UTI is basically when bacteria enters the urethra and makes its way up into the bladder, potentially infecting everything in its path until it reaches your kidneys. The reason why SCI victims suffer an increased risk for UTIs is because of the need for catheters to help with urination.

The National Institutes of Health suggests that the use of a urinary catheter, not only introduces bacteria into the body—unclean or improperly handled tubes can easily carry bacteria—but they also allow a straight path for bacteria to travel directly to the kidneys. This is why SCI victims must constantly monitor for UTIs as well as make sure their catheters are properly maintained.

How UTIs Affect Pregnancy

Unfortunately, pregnancy can also further increase UTI risks for SCI victims. As the fetus grows,   it pushes on the bladder and kidneys, creating more pressure on the catheter. A study performed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) on SCIs during pregnancy, suggests that the UTI rate for SCI pregnancies is 100 percent. This means that if you have an SCI while pregnant, you’ll most likely also suffer at least one UTI.

As a result of UTI frequency, pain, and complications, the ACOG suggests that frequent urine cultures and antibiotics for UTI suppression are essential for a spinal cord injury victim’s prenatal care. Consistent preventative monitoring and precautions are not only important to help decrease pain, but also to suppress the following potential complications:

  • Pyelonephritis – Kidney and pelvic inflammation.
  • Urosepsis – Bacteria infects the bloodstream, causing inflammation and potential infection to other organs.
  • Maternal sepsis – Infected blood is transferred to the fetus. This can cause fetal distress, spontaneous abortion, and fatal injuries to your unborn baby.
  • Pneumonia – Your body becomes so overwhelmed with fighting the UTI that smaller germs and infections take over other parts of your body, such as the lungs.
  • Preterm labor – Your body may try to abort the fetus in order to protect it from potential sepsis if your bloodstream become infected.

Take Precautions to Stay Safe

Having a child while suffering from an SCI can be difficult from the start. You must make sure that you follow your doctor’s advice, keep your catheters clean and well maintained, and have frequent checkups to test your urine. A UTI shouldn’t be fatal, nor cause fetal distress if detected early. So, protect yourself and your child by taking the proper necessary precautions.

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