The relationship between urinary tract infection during pregnancy and preeclampsia: causal, confounded or spurious?

Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2008 Jun;277(6):479-81. doi: 10.1007/s00404-008-0643-2.


Background: Preeclampsia is a major cause of maternal morbidity, although its precise etiology remains elusive. A number of studies suggest that urinary tract infection (UTI) during the course of gestation is associated with elevated risk for preeclampsia, while others have failed to prove such an association. In our medical center, pregnant women who were exposed to at least one UTI episode during pregnancy were 1.3 times more likely to have mild preeclampsia and 1.8 times more likely to have severe preeclampsia as compared to unexposed women. Our results are based on univariate analyses and are not adjusted for potential confounders.

Objective: This editorial aims to discuss the relationship between urinary tract infection and preeclampsia, as well as examine the current problems regarding the interpretation of this association.

Conclusion: Although the relationship between UTI and preeclampsia has been demonstrated in studies with various designs, carried-out in a variety of settings, the nature of this association is unclear. By taking into account timeline, dose-response effects, treatment influences, and potential confounders, as well as by neutralizing potential biases, future studies may be able to clarify the relationship between UTI and preeclampsia by determining if it is causal, confounded, or spurious.

Publication types

  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pre-Eclampsia / etiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Urinary Tract Infections / complications*