Pregnancy Problems

Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy

Did you just find out you have toxoplasmosis? Find out how to treat the infection and how it can affect baby.

What is toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii — which is one of the world’s most common parasites. If you get it, you can pass it along to your baby, and it can cause serious complications like vision and learning problems.

What are the signs of toxoplasmosis?

You may experience body aches, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fever, fatigue and sore throat. Since these are similar to symptoms of the flu, you should check with your doctor so he can properly diagnose you.

Are there any tests for toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?

You’ll undergo blood tests to check for antibodies to the parasite, which are produced in response to the infection. If you do have an infection, your baby will need to get tested too, likely through an amniocentesis or ultrasound.

How common is toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?

According to the March of Dimes, it’s one of the most common infections in the world, and more than 60 million people in the US may be infected.

How did I get toxoplasmosis?

Sorry, kitty — cats are the parasite’s natural host. You can become infected if you come into contact with cat poop that has the parasite, consume contaminated food or water, use contaminated utensils while cooking or eat unwashed fruits and vegetables.

How will toxoplasmosis affect my baby?

Most babies born with toxoplasmosis show no serious symptoms. But, according to the March of Dimes, about 1 in 10 infected babies have severe symptoms like eye infections, an enlarged liver and spleen, jaundice or pneumonia. Some babies may die a few days after birth. Other problems that baby may develop are mental retardation, hearing loss and impaired vision.

What’s the best way to treat toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?

Your doctor may give you antibiotics whether or not baby is infected.

What can I do to prevent toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?

Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat, make sure all your utensils are clean, and wash or peel fruits and veggies before eating them. Make sure you wash your hands throughout the day. And if you have a cat, don’t clean out her litter box yourself (it’s the perfect job for your partner) and keep her indoors so she doesn’t hunt rodents or birds that have the parasite. Also, wear gloves while you’re gardening — the soil could contain the parasite from cats using it as a litter box.

What do other pregnant moms do when they have toxoplasmosis?

“My toxoplasmosis test came back positive, and I’m meeting with a specialist in a week to do a sonogram to find out if the baby is okay. I have no idea what to expect from this appointment. I read somewhere that sometimes the test gives a false positive. I’m kind of stressing.”

“I’ve tested positive for IgG and IgM antibodies. They’re doing an avidity test next, since I’m still in my first trimester. I’ve already started treatment.”

“I tested positive for it, but I always have and always will because I was infected before I got pregnant. I push for constant monitoring — monthly ultrasounds and biweekly nonstress tests.”

Are there any other resources for toxoplasmosis?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Plus more from The Bump:

How to Deal With a Dental Infection During Pregnancy 

Are vaccinations okay while pregnant? 

What medications are safe to use while pregnant? 

By Sarah Yang