January 24, 2021

Pregnancy: all about toxoplasmosis

What is toxoplasmosis? What are the risks for the baby ? How is this disease contracted? What precautions should be taken ? What you need to know about toxoplasmosis!

What is toxoplasmosis?

It is an infection transmitted by a parasite, which may be present in undercooked meat, vegetables and fruits badly washed and more rarely in water. In healthy people, toxoplasmosis is most often benign. But this parasitic infection can be serious in women pregnant and in immunocompromised individuals. The consequences of contamination can be serious for the baby if the parasite crosses the placenta and infects the fetus.

What are the risks for the baby?

Toxoplasmosis can lead to fetal malformations: ocular, cerebral, neurological malformations. In some cases, it can lead to death in utero. These malformations have become rare thanks to the systematic screening of the disease during pregnancy. The future mother of family must take this disease seriously respecting the rules of hygiene and being tested.

Prevention is better than cure !

If you are expecting a happy event, a blood test, routinely prescribed by doctors in early pregnancy, will tell if you have ever had toxoplasmosis. If you have already contracted, you are therefore immune. In this case, the fetus runs no risk. Following a first contamination, a person is indeed immune to life. Did you know ? If not, it will have to follow the preventive measures which concern the hygiene and the food precautions mentioned below. Every month, blood tests will also be prescribed.

Precautions to take during pregnancy

- Wash your hands and nails before handling food.
- Clean raw vegetables, surfaces and cooking utensils after every contact with raw meats, seafood and fruits and vegetables, especially from the earth.
- Cook enough meat before eating.
- Avoid eating products made from raw milk.
- Refrain from any contact with cats, which are responsible for the transmission of the disease (the parasite reproduces in its small intestine), and their excrement.
- Clean your litter box daily with boiling water. If you are pregnant or if you are one of the immunocompromised subjects, leave this task to another person. The scratches of the cat are not at risk.
- Clean shoes that may have been in contact with contaminated soil or cat feces.

How do you contract toxoplasmosis most often?

- By changing the litter of the cat
- By touching contaminated soil (gardening for example). If you garden, it is best to wear gloves
- By eating meat or vegetables and contaminated fruit.

What are the symptoms of toxoplasmosis?

The majority of cases, which contract toxoplasmosis, show no symptoms. At worst, the person affected by this parasite will have the symptoms of influenza or infectious mononucleosis. It may be a mild fever, muscle pain, sore throat, increased spleen and liver volume, and occasionally mild diarrhea. These symptoms can last several weeks but usually disappear without treatment.

You still have doubts, questions, do not hesitate to contact your gynecologist or your doctor.

toxoplasmosis (January 2021)