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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in pregnancy and account for the highest proportion of primary care antibiotic prescriptions issued to pregnant women in the UK. It is well known that antibiotic use is associated with increased antimicrobial resistance and therefore measures to minimise antibiotic use for UTI prevention have been studied. The efficacy and safety of these measures in pregnancy have not been addressed and therefore the aim of this study was to systematically review the literature to identify and evaluate potential measures to prevent UTIs in pregnant women.
Ten databases (EMBASE, AMED, BNI, CINAHL, Medline, PubMed, PsycINFO, Cochrane Trials, Scopus and Science Direct) were systematically searched in July 2017 for studies reporting non-antibiotic measures to prevent UTIs in pregnancy. The terms (“urinary tract infection” or UTI or bacteriuria or cystitis) AND (prevention) AND (pregnan*) were used. The quality of the publications was appraised using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklists for cohort study, case-control study and randomised controlled trial. The results were synthesised using a textual narrative approach.
Search results yielded 3276 publications and after reviewing titles and removing duplicates, 57 full text articles were assessed for eligibility and eight were included in the review. Five different approaches (hygiene measures, cranberry juice, immunisation, ascorbic acid and Canephron® N) have been identified, all of which are reported to be safe in pregnancy.
The quality of the evidence varied considerably and only hygiene measures were supported by evidence to be recommended in practice. Future work needs to concentrate on strengthening the evidence base through improved design and reporting of studies with a focus on immunisation, ascorbic acid and Canephron® N.