Associations between antibiotic prescriptions and recurrent urinary tract infections in female college students

Epidemiol Infect. 2019 Jan:147:e119. doi: 10.1017/S0950268818003369.


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common among college-aged women and often recur. Some antibiotics recommended to treat UTIs trigger dysbiosis of intestinal and vaginal microbiomes - where uropathogens originate, though few studies have investigated associations between these therapies with recurrent infections. We retrospectively analysed the electronic medical records of 6651 college-aged women diagnosed with a UTI at a US university student health centre between 2006 and 2014. Women were followed for 6 months for incidence of a recurrent infection. In a secondary analysis, associations in women whose experienced UTI recurrence within 2 weeks were also considered for potential infection relapse. Logistic regression was used to assess associations between infection recurrence or relapse and antibiotics prescribed, in addition to baseline patient characteristics including age, race/ethnicity, region of origin, year of encounter, presence of symptomology, pyelonephritis, vaginal coinfection and birth control consultation. There were 1051 instances of infection recurrence among the 6620 patients, indicating a prevalence of 16%. In the analysis of patient characteristics, Asian women were statistically more likely to experience infection recurrence whereas African American were less likely. No significant associations were identified between the antibiotic administered at the initial infection and the risk of infection recurrence after multivariable adjustment. Treatment with trimethoprim-sulphamethoxazole and being born outside of the USA were significantly associated with increased odds of infection relapse in the multivariate analysis. The results of the analyses suggest that treatment with trimethoprim-sulphamethoxazole may lead to an increased risk of UTI relapse, warranting further study.

Keywords: Antibiotics; bacterial infections; epidemiology; urinary tract infections (UTIs).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Students
  • United States
  • Universities
  • Urinary Tract Infections / drug therapy*
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents