antenatal screening programme

Asymptomatic bacteriuria

Asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB) is the presence of bacteria in a person's urine without symptoms of infection. It can suggest that a person may have a urinary tract infection. It may also cause complications for pregnant mothers and their babies.

Read more about urinary tract infection on the NHS website.

UK NSC screening recommendation Based on the last UK NSC review of this condition that occurred in November 2020.

Screening is not currently recommended for this condition.

Population screening for ASB in pregnant women is currently not recommended in the UK. This is because:

  • it is not known which screening test would work and when during pregnancy a good test would be useful
  • there is insufficient information to understand how women might feel about ASB screening and treatment (such as taking antibiotics) in pregnancy

Population screening also may not be useful in reducing any negative effects of ASB. This is because we do not know:

  • how many women have ASB
  • how many get a kidney infection and symptoms
  • how many have ASB more than once
  • how ASB affects them and their baby

Without this information, the UK NSC cannot recommend a population screening programme at this time.

NICE guidance

As of 2021 NICE will no longer include a recommendation on routine testing for ASB in its updated antenatal care guidance (expected publication August 2021). Therefore, the UK NSC recommendation will be the only national recommendation on antenatal screening for ASB in the UK. The UK NSC will work with stakeholders to assess the effect of this change in recommendations.

Supporting documents from the 2020 review

NSC Asymptomatic Bacteriuria in Pregnancy publication doc Final
This document provides the evidence on which the current UK NSC recommendation is based.

UK NSC Cover Sheet Asymptomatic Bacteriuria 2020 10 28 REDACTED
This document summarises the review process including the public consultation comments.

Review cycle

Date previous review completed: 2020

Next review estimated to be completed: 2023 to 2024.

To see previous evidence reviews, visit the UK NSC archive.

Organisations interested in Asymptomatic bacteriuria

These organisations have expressed interest in this recommendation and may submit responses to evidence reviews.

List of organisations

If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for organisation can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.