Toxoplasmosis is a common
infection found in birds, animals, and people.
For most people, it
doesn't cause serious health problems. But for a pregnant woman's growing baby,
it can cause brain damage and vision loss. Still, the chance of a pregnant
woman getting the infection and passing it on to her baby is low.
If you're pregnant or planning to have a baby and are worried that you
may have toxoplasmosis, ask your doctor about getting tested. Routine testing is not recommended for most women.1 After you have
had the infection, you're usually immune and can't get it again or pass it on to your baby.
if you aren't immune, you'll want to take special care while you're pregnant.
Avoid anything that may be infected, such as infected meat
and infected cat feces.
parasite causes toxoplasmosis.
get the infection by:
If you get toxoplasmosis,
you may feel like you have the flu, or you may not feel sick at all. Most
people who get the infection don't even know that they have it. Symptoms may include:
A blood test can
tell whether you have or have ever had toxoplasmosis. If you're worried about
getting the infection, ask your doctor about having the test.
you get the infection while you're pregnant, you'll need to have your baby
tested. Your doctor can take some fluid from the sac that surrounds your baby
and check for the infection.
In healthy people, the infection often goes away on its own. But babies and
people whose bodies can't fight infection well will need to take medicine to treat
the infection and prevent serious health problems.
If you get toxoplasmosis while
you're pregnant, you'll take medicine that treats the infection. This medicine
is called spiramycin, an
Spiramycin collects in the
placenta, the site through which the Toxoplasma gondii parasites travel to the fetus.
This medicine may:
Your baby has a better chance of being healthy at birth if
you get treatment while you're pregnant.
amniocentesis shows that a fetus is infected, a combination of antibiotics lowers the risk of birth defects and
may cure the infection. Sulfadiazine plus
pyrimethamine (an antibiotic commonly used for malaria) is sometimes used with
the antibiotic spiramycin.2
Most newborns who have been infected with toxoplasmosis have no symptoms at birth. If your baby has the
infection, he or she will need to take antibiotics for a year after birth.
This lowers the chance of having problems later on.
There are several things you can do to avoid getting
Learning about toxoplasmosis:
This American Academy of Pediatrics website has information for parents about childhood issues, from before the child is born to young adulthood. You'll find information on child growth and development, immunizations, safety, health issues, behavior, and much more.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s website on parasites offers information on diseases caused by parasites. It provides information on topics such as malaria, neglected tropical diseases, and parasitic infections in the United States. There are also links to related information, such as a glossary and a site on healthy water, and other references and resources, such as statistics on parasitic diseases.
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It
has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and
diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website
offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing
age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can
sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
(2000, reaffirmed 2011). Perinatal viral and parasitic infections. ACOG
Practice Bulletin No. 20. Obstetrics and Gynecology,
Montoya JG, et al. (2010). Toxoplasma gondii. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 3495–3526. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
May 29, 2013
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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