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Toxoplasmosis and pregnancy

Authors
Ruth Gilbert, MD
Eskild Petersen, MD, DMSc, DTM&H
Section Editors
Lynn L Simpson, MD
Peter F Weller, MD, MACP
Deputy Editors
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG
Jennifer Mitty, MD, MPH

INTRODUCTION

Toxoplasma gondii is a ubiquitous protozoan parasite that infects humans in various settings. The parasite is mainly acquired during childhood and adolescence [1]. After becoming infected, the large majority of immunocompetent humans in European and North American studies are able to limit the spread of the parasite and the associated tissue damage, ensuring that the parasite remains in its dormant form in neural and muscle tissue (latent infection) for the life of the host [2]. In immunosuppressed patients, especially patients with AIDS, the parasite can reactivate and cause disease.

When toxoplasmic infection is acquired for the first time during pregnancy or is reactivated, the parasites can be transmitted from the mother to the fetus, resulting in congenital toxoplasmosis. The frequency of congenital toxoplasmosis increases with increasing gestational age at maternal infection, but the frequency of severe sequelae in infected offspring is greater when infection is early in pregnancy.

This topic will focus on issues related to Toxoplasma gondii infection during pregnancy. Other aspects of this infection are reviewed separately:

(See "Diagnostic testing for toxoplasmosis infection".)

(See "Toxoplasmosis in immunocompetent hosts".)

                                            
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Literature review current through: Dec 2017. | This topic last updated: Dec 05, 2017.
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