Continuous antibiotic prophylaxis (CAP) is recommended to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) in newborns with antenatal hydronephrosis (HN). However, there is a paucity of high-level evidence supporting this practice. The goal of this study was to conduct a systematic evaluation to determine the value of CAP in reducing the rate of UTIs in this patient population.


Pertinent articles and abstracts from 4 electronic databases and gray literature, spanning publication dates between 1990 and 2010, were included. Eligibility criteria included studies of children <2 years old with antenatal HN, receiving either CAP or not, and reporting on development of UTIs, capturing information on voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) result and HN grade. Full-text screening and quality appraisal were conducted by 2 independent reviewers.


Of 1681 citations, 21 were included in the final analysis (N = 3876 infants). Of these, 76% were of moderate or low quality. Pooled UTI rates in patients with low-grade HN were similar regardless of CAP status: 2.2% on prophylaxis versus 2.8% not receiving prophylaxis. In children with high-grade HN, patients receiving CAP had a significantly lower UTI rate versus those not receiving CAP (14.6% [95% confidence interval: 9.3–22.0] vs 28.9% [95% confidence interval: 24.6–33.6], P < .01). The estimated number needed to treat to prevent 1 UTI in patients with high-grade HN was 7.


This systematic review suggests value in offering CAP to infants with high-grade HN, however the impact of important variables (eg, gender, reflux, circumcision status) could not be assessed. The overall level of evidence of available data is unfortunately moderate to low.

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