Toxoplasmosis in Pregnancy

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If you are not immune to toxoplasmosis and contract it for the first time in the three months leading up to conception of whilst you are pregnant, there is a very small risk that the infection could pass to your baby and possibly but rarely cause miscarriage or stillbirth or possibly birth defects. The risk to your unborn child varies depending on when you contract toxoplasmosis in your pregnancy.

It is not common for toxoplasmosis to pass to your baby in the early stages of pregnancy, however if it does then the risk of serious harm to your baby is higher. It is more common for the infection to pass to your baby in the later stages of pregnancy, but the risks of harm to the baby are far less at this stage. 

The risk of contracting toxoplasmosis in pregnancy is very low but there are steps you can take to avoid the risk.

You can be tested to see if you are immune to toxoplasmosis, although this is not usually routine ante-natal testing.

If you find you do not have immunity, here are some precautions you can take:

  • Do not eat raw or undercooked meat – ask for meat to be well cooked when you are out.
  • Do not eat unpasteurised milk or milk products.
  • f you live with cats you will probably have immunity, however it is best to have someone else empty the litter tray, and if you have to do it then use disposable gloves and be very vigilant about handwashing after emptying the tray which must be done every day, and also after contact with your cats.
  • Wear gloves when gardening to avoid contact and avoid areas where cats may have deposited faeces.
  • Be sure to thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables particularly those from a home garden.
  •  Avoid contact with lambs or lambing when pregnant.

Symptoms of toxoplasmosis include feeling tired, swollen glands and a slight temperature and you may notice a rash after a couple of days. Many people show no symptoms at all. If you do experience these symptoms seek urgent medical help and in the very unlikely event that you have toxoplasmosis you will be treated with antibiotics to minimise risk to your unborn child. 

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