|Birth||Postnatal||Childhood Illness||Glossary A-Z|
Toxoplasmosis is an infection with the parasite Toxoplasma
gondii . If a woman becomes infected during pregnancy the infection
may pass through the placenta
to the developing foetus. Women at risk of acute infection and secondary
transmission to their foetus are those who are antibody-negative (were
not previously exposed to T. gondii ) and whose culinary practices
include the use of raw, previously unfrozen meat (e.g., some women of
French or African descent, Inuit women) and women who travel to these
regions during pregnancy, as well as women who handle kittens or previously
uninfected cats and/or kitty litter during pregnancy.
Symptoms and Signs
Infection may result in symptomatic neonatal disease, either generalised or neurological; symptomatic disease occurring in the first months of life, usually neurological; sequelae or relapse later in childhood of a previously unrecognised infection, usually chorioretinitis; and subclinical infection. The vast majority of infants have subclinical infection. 40% of symptomatically infected infants show abnormalities in brain scans (e.g., computed tomography [CT] scan).
Diagnosis and Treatment
1. Maternal Infection. A positive
antibody test in pregnancy is insufficient evidence of the need for therapy:
10% to 40% of pregnant women have toxoplasmosis-specific antibody due
to remote infection, depending on culinary practices, exposure to cat
excreta, country of birth, etc. Furthermore, toxoplasmosis-specific immunoglobulin
(Ig) M antibody may persist for more than one year, and in these situations
may well have anteceded any risk of foetal disease.
2. Foetal Infection . Infection
of the foetus follows either symptomatic or asymptomatic infection in
pregnancy. Women with a history of ingestion of raw meat in pregnancy,
who travel to a region with high rates of infection (e.g., France) or
who acquire a kitten and handle kitty litter should be tested.
3. Newborn Infection . The diagnosis
of congenital toxoplasmosis in the newborn infant should be considered
in the presence of positive maternal serology and/or suggestive clinical
findings often associated with abnormalities of ophthalmological examination,
cerebrospinal fluid analysis and cranial CT scan.
The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken
from the following source(s):
|http://www.hon.ch/Dossier/MotherChild/neonatal_problems/congenital_toxoplasmosis.html||Last modified: Jun 25 2002|