Wipes warmer UTI – is this a thing? Long story short if you’re coming here from a search engine: my one month old baby was hospitalized with a urinary tract infection. I believe it was caused by using a wipes warmer.
I apologize for my scattered, slightly cryptic post the other day. At the time I was feeling quite confused, sad and guilty (because don’t we moms begin blaming ourselves for things right away?).
I am so thankful to be back home with baby V, with things slowly getting back to normal.
Last Thursday I noticed that Victoria felt hot, and she wasn’t acting herself. She seemed unusually sleepy. In retrospect I know that she had probably been feverish all day and perhaps even the day before, but I kept thinking that she was warm from being in the sling. It’s been hotter than Hades here and muggy, and I was burning up and sweaty.
But by around 7 PM I knew something wasn’t right. I took her temperature, and it was over 100. I don’t usually overreact to a fever, but in a baby so young (she’s just shy of a month old) it startled me. I have never had a baby so little get sick, and I was worried.
I started researching – via Google, Dr. Robert Sears’ website, and in the reference books I keep around the house, my favorite being How To Raise a Healthy Child In Spite of Your Doctor. (It has a very commonsense, low interventionist approach and its advice has served me well for 18 years of parenting.)
What I found is that fever in a newborn was considered a medical emergency (even among experts who believe that generally speaking, a fever should be ignored). That scared me. I called the Pediatrician and was told to get baby to the ER asap. So I did.
As a parent, we always second guess our decisions. Looking back, I know that Vic would probably have been just fine if I had let it run its course, because the diagnosis was a simple Urinary Tract Infection, quite common according to the docs and nurses at the hospital. But it could have been so much worse. And I didn’t know that it wasn’t worse until the nasty diagnostic tests were done. To rule out things like meningitis and blood infections that could have killed my baby.
The doctors and nurses kept saying how common UTIs are among babies. Common for them maybe, but not common for me and my babies. They called it Bad Luck and said I hadn’t done anything wrong.
I’m still scratching my head about this whole thing.
Breastfed babies are far less likely to get UTIs, and I’ve never had a child get one. (Just like I’ve never had a sick newborn or had to spend nights in a hospital with a sick little one.) I began Googling during the long, impossible to get any sleep nights at the hospital (they had to admit us so that baby V could get IV antibiotics).
Wipes warmer UTI: is there a connection?
The only thing I found that makes any sense is a remote possibility that the wipes warmer I used could have harbored bacteria that caused the infection.
There is a lot of talk among parents on message forums and blogs about this, but I could find no legitimate references or studies or cautions from doctors against using wipes warmers. I asked the pediatrician and one nurse at the hospital and they had heard nothing about it.
I DID notice, however, that a couple of the well known manufacturers of wipes warmers have begun making “antibacterial” versions of their products.
Hmm… is this to avoid litigation? Do they know something they’re not telling parents? Have other parents sued after their babies got UTIs?
Anyway, “when in doubt leave it out“. I flung the wipes warmer in the trash when I got home from the hospital. I’ve used a wipes warmer on all my babies since Caleb was a day old with no problems, but if there was a small chance that it could cause a Urinary Tract Infection, I wasn’t willing to risk it.
I’m finally caught up on sleep (it is impossible to sleep in a hospital!) and baby V is doing fine. I’m really heartbroken that she has to be on antibiotics for a week, doing who knows what to her little immature gut. I do have her on a probiotic, actually the Pedi in the hospital prescribed it for her, which I thought was pretty forward-thinking of him.
I’ve read that it can take months for a baby to restore proper gut flora after having it disturbed (which happens when you give a baby anything other than breastmilk by mouth), and I pray that the meds don’t weaken her immune system and cause other problems.
I’ve been very lucky, I know.
I don’t take it for granted.
During my pregnancies I fear that my baby will die in my womb. And after the baby is born I fear that it will die in its sleep. I think it’s a normal part of the postpartum experience for me, and why I experience insomnia after my babies are born.
I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
A couple of days before I took V to the hospital, I was at the park with the kids. It was a glorious late summer day, the weather was perfect. There was a gentle breeze that just hinted that fall was coming. I sat there watching my children play and feeling gratitude deep in my bones, knowing in my kidneys and marrow how fortunate I have been to have healthy babies.
I snapped this picture to remember the afternoon.
I love my life, and I am thankful every single day for it.
p.s. thank you to those who left kind comments, tweets, emails and words… I appreciate your concern, prayers and love. I thought of a couple of you specifically during this experience who have dealt with far worse health issues with your children. Thank you.