Toxoplasmosis And Pregnancy
Toxoplasmosis is a rather dangerous infectious disease that can lead to serious pathologies. At the same time, a person cannot become infected from a person. Infection occurs as a result of an organ transplant, blood transfusion or transmission in the womb, that is, from mother to child.
Prevention of Toxoplasmosis
For almost every woman, pregnancy is the expectation of a long-awaited baby. In this regard, every expectant mother is concerned about her health, even during planning and pregnancy. After all, the health of an unborn child is threatened by many different infections, including the genitourinary system. Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by the intracellular parasite “Toxoplasma gondii”.
We can say that for a person this disease is practically not dangerous. Usually the patient becomes infected by ingesting this intracellular pathogen. For humans, cats are the source of infection, often infected by eating contaminated raw meat. Animals excrete the pathogen into the environment with feces, which retains its infectious properties for at least a year. In addition, the infection can be transmitted to humans through unpasteurized milk and poorly heat-treated meat. A person with toxoplasmosis is not a carrier of the infection and therefore another person cannot become infected from it. The exception is organ transplantation, blood transfusion and intrauterine infection.
Usually the disease is asymptomatic (80% of cases). The acute phase of toxoplasmosis, as a rule, proceeds in a generalized manner, in other words, it affects all organs and systems of the infected organism. The patient’s fever rises, weakness, lethargy and chills occur, liver and spleen increase, body redness is observed, muscle tone decreases and there is even possible strabismus.
With the gradual course of inflammatory processes in the fetus, hydrocephalus or brain dropsy develops, changes in the eyes are observed. The chronic course of toxoplasmosis causes rather serious changes in the central nervous system, the process of which is irreversible. This is blindness, mental retardation of the child and other pathologies.
Consequences of Pregnant Toxoplasmosis Infection
During pregnancy, doctors pay special attention to this disease. If a woman gets this infection while carrying a child, there is a high probability that the fetus will also be infected with toxoplasmosis, as the infection spreads through the placenta. It is worth noting that infection with the disease in the first trimester has more serious consequences than in the third trimester. Outcomes, including spontaneous abortion or intrauterine death, are different. If the fetus survives, there is a high probability that the child will be born with congenital toxoplasmosis.
Less than 25% of newborns diagnosed with congenital toxoplasmosis have visible signs of infection from birth. These; low weight, enlarged spleen and liver, anemia, jaundice and convulsions. Toxoplasmosis and Pregnancy
The rest of the children have no symptoms at birth, but over time are possible manifestations of blindness, deafness and mental retardation. True, not all women exposed to toxoplasmosis during pregnancy will give birth to a child with this congenital disease. The probability of transmission of the infection from the mother to the child is on average 45 to 50%. Fortunately, the frequency of infection with toxoplasmosis during pregnancy is negligible and is about 1 to 5 cases per thousand women.
If in the past (before pregnancy) a woman had toxoplasmosis, her body developed protective factors, called antibodies, that create immunity against this pathogen. They protect the fetus from congenital infection in case the expectant mother encounters Toxoplasma gondii again later during pregnancy. We can safely say that a woman who has antibodies to toxoplasmosis at the beginning of pregnancy does not need to worry. It is worth emphasizing that about 30% of the population already has immunity to this disease.
As described above, the most severe forms of the disease occur in children infected during prenatal development. Therefore, it is very important to diagnose this disease during pregnancy. If antibodies to “IgG and IgM” are detected in the blood of a pregnant woman, as a rule, doctors recommend an IgG avidity test. At 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, in the case of high IgG avidity, usually over 40%, it almost eliminates the possibility of infection with toxoplasmosis during pregnancy and the consequent infection of the fetus.
At the same time, low avidity is not an indication that a person has been recently infected. In this case, it is recommended to repeat the test after two to three weeks to determine whether the amount of antibody titer has increased. It should be noted that the absence of chronic forms of the disease is also evidenced by the presence of intradermal samples with toxoplasmin and negative serological reactions (in the absence of HIV). The presence of IgM without manifestation of clinical symptoms of toxoplasmosis suggests that the primary infection occurred within 13 months of that.