MediFind
Condition

Congenital Toxoplasmosis

Condition 101

What is the definition of Congenital Toxoplasmosis?

Congenital toxoplasmosis is a group of symptoms that occur when an unborn baby (fetus) is infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

What are the causes for Congenital Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis infection can be passed to a developing baby if the mother becomes infected while pregnant. The infection spreads to the developing baby across the placenta. Most of the time, the infection is mild in the mother. The woman may not be aware she has the parasite. However, infection of the developing baby can cause serious problems. Problems are worse if the infection occurs in early pregnancy.

What are the symptoms for Congenital Toxoplasmosis?

Up to half babies who become infected with toxoplasmosis during the pregnancy are born early (prematurely). The infection can damage the baby's eyes, nervous system, skin, and ears.

Often, there are signs of infection at birth. However, babies with mild infections may not have symptoms for months or years after birth. If not treated, most children with this infection develop problems in their teens. Eye problems are common.

Symptoms may include:

  • Enlarged liver and spleen
  • Vomiting
  • Eye damage from inflammation of the retina or other parts of the eye
  • Feeding problems
  • Hearing loss
  • Jaundice (yellow skin)
  • Low birth weight (intrauterine growth restriction)
  • Skin rash (tiny red spots or bruising) at birth
  • Vision problems

Brain and nervous system damage ranges from very mild to severe, and may include:

  • Seizures
  • Intellectual disability

What are the current treatments for Congenital Toxoplasmosis?

Spiramycin can treat infection in the pregnant mother.

Pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine can treat fetal infection (diagnosed during the pregnancy).

Treatment of infants with congenital toxoplasmosis most often includes pyrimethamine, sulfadiazine, and leucovorin for one year. Infants are also sometimes given steroids if their vision is threatened or if the protein level in the spinal fluid is high.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Congenital Toxoplasmosis?

The outcome depends on the extent of the condition.

What are the possible complications for Congenital Toxoplasmosis?

Complications may include:

  • Hydrocephalus
  • Blindness or severe visual disability
  • Severe intellectual disability or other neurological problems

When should I contact a medical professional for Congenital Toxoplasmosis?

Call your health care provider if you are pregnant and think you are at risk for the infection. (For example, toxoplasmosis infection can be passed from cats if you clean the cat's litter box.) Call your provider if you are pregnant and have not had prenatal care.

How do I prevent Congenital Toxoplasmosis?

Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant can be tested to find out if they are at risk for the infection.

Pregnant women who have cats as house pets may be at higher risk. They should avoid contact with cat feces, or things that could be contaminated by insects exposed to cat feces (such as cockroaches and flies).

Also, cook meat until it is well done, and wash your hands after handling raw meat to avoid getting the parasite.

REFERENCES

Duff P, Birsner M. Maternal and perinatal infection in pregnancy: bacterial. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 54.

McLeod R, Boyer KM. Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii). In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 316.

Montoya JG, Boothroyd JC, Kovacs JA. Toxoplasma gondii. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 280.

Latest Research

Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Prenatal Toxoplasmosis
  • Journal: American journal of obstetrics and gynecology
  • Treatment Used: Prenatal Therapy with Pyrimethamine plus Sulfadiazine vs. Spiramycin
  • Number of Patients: 143
  • Published —
This study compared the effectiveness and tolerance of pyrimethamine + sulfadiazine vs spiramycin to reduce placental transmission of toxoplasmosis (parasitic infection).

Clinical Trials

Clinical Trial
Biological
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Study Type: Biological
  • Participants: 60
  • Start Date: June 21, 2018
TOXODIAG: New Diagnostic Approach for Congenital Toxoplasmosis
Clinical Trial
Drug
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Study Type: Drug
  • Participants: 600
  • Start Date: July 2000
Phase IV Randomized Study of Pyrimethamine, Sulfadiazine, and Leucovorin Calcium for Congenital Toxoplasmosis