Urinary Tract Infection in Adults (cont.)
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Many women suffer from frequent UTIs. Nearly 20 percent of women who have a UTI will have another, and 30 percent of those will have yet another. Of the last group, 80 percent will have recurrences.
Usually, the latest infection stems from a strain or type of bacteria that is different from the infection before it, indicating a separate infection. Even when several UTIs in a row are due to E. coli, slight differences in the bacteria indicate distinct infections.
Research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that one factor behind recurrent UTIs may be the ability of bacteria to attach to cells lining the urinary tract. A recent NIH-funded study found that bacteria formed a protective film on the inner lining of the bladder in mice. If a similar process can be demonstrated in humans, the discovery may lead to new treatments to prevent recurrent UTIs. Another line of research has indicated that women who are "non-secretors" of certain blood group antigens may be more prone to recurrent UTIs because the cells lining the vagina and urethra may allow bacteria to attach more easily. Further research will show whether this association is sound and proves useful in identifying women at high risk for UTIs.
Infections in pregnancy
Pregnant women seem no more prone to UTIs than other women. However, when a UTI does occur in a pregnant woman, it is more likely to travel to the kidneys. According to some reports, about 2 to 4 percent of pregnant women develop a urinary infection. Scientists think that hormonal changes and shifts in the position of the urinary tract during pregnancy make it easier for bacteria to travel up the ureters to the kidneys. For this reason, many doctors recommend periodic testing of urine during pregnancy.
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