What happens if I get a UTI or BV during pregnancy?

When untreated or improperly treated, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bacterial vaginosis (BV) can both be very dangerous to an unborn baby. UTIs and BV can cause several types of obstetrical complications and birth injuries, including preterm delivery, sepsis, meningitis, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), and cerebral palsy (CP).

Note: for more detailed information about UTIs and BV, including risk factors, causes, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and potential complications, please click here. 


How Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Can Impact the Baby

Pregnant women are at increased risk for UTIs starting in week six through week 24. BV during pregnancy is also fairly common, affecting about one in five pregnant women. When these conditions are promptly and appropriately treated in pregnant women, the outcomes for both mother and baby can be very positive. Unfortunately, these infections often go undiagnosed for too long, or are treated ineffectively.  There are two main ways in which a baby can be birth injured as the result of a UTI or BV:

  1. UTIs and BV can lead to preterm birth. Due to their fragility and underdeveloped organs, premature babies are at high risk for a number of health complications. They often have hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which is a type of brain damage caused by a lack of oxygenated blood. HIE can lead to permanent disabilities such as cerebral palsy. Premature babies are also very susceptible to infection.
  2. A mother with a UTI or BV may pass the infection on to the baby during the birthing process. This can lead to sepsis (infection of the blood), meningitis (infection of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord), and permanent brain damage such as cerebral palsy.

For more information on how UTIs and BV can affect infants, please visit our main page on this topic.

The Role of Medical Malpractice

Due to the potentially devastating complications associated with UTIs and BV, it’s crucial that the infections be accurately and promptly treated in all pregnant women. When a pregnant woman is not properly tested for UTIs or BV, and when standards of care for treating the conditions are not followed, it is medical negligence. If this negligence leads to injury in the baby or mother, it is medical malpractice.

The following situations may constitute medical negligence:

  • Failure to screen a pregnant woman for urinary tract infections
  • Failure to perform a bacterial vaginosis screening on a woman who has symptoms of or risk factors for BV
  • Failure to perform antibiotic susceptibility testing for UTIs
  • Failure to perform a test for cure after treating urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis
  • Failure to use appropriate antibiotics and/or failure to switch to a more sensitive antibiotic when necessary
  • Utilization of antibiotics that are harmful to the mother or fetus

Trusted Detroit, Michigan Pregnancy and Birth Injury Attorneys

If your baby was exposed to a UTI or BV and now has a birth injury such as cerebral palsy, the attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers can help. We have helped children throughout the country obtain compensation for lifelong treatment, therapy, and a secure future. Our firm has numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success, and you pay nothing until we win your case.

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