JOURNAL ARTICLE

Congenital Toxoplasmosis

James B McAuley
Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society 2014, 3 Suppl 1: S30-5
25232475
Toxoplasmosis is caused by infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. It is one of the most common parasitic infections in humans and is most typically asymptomatic. However, primary infection in a pregnant woman can cause severe and disabling disease in the developing fetus. Recent developments have included increased understanding of the role of parasite genotype in determining infectivity and disease severity. Risk factors for acquisition of infection have been better defined, and the important role of foodborne transmission has been further delineated. In addition, strategies have emerged to decrease mother-to-child transmission through prompt identification of acutely infected pregnant women followed by appropriate treatment. Refined diagnostic tools, particularly the addition of immunoglobulin G avidity testing, allow for more accurate timing of maternal infection and hence better decision making during pregnancy. Congenitally infected children can be treated, beginning in utero and continuing through the first year of life, to ameliorate the severity of disease. However, despite these many advances in our understanding of congenital toxoplasmosis prevention and treatment, significant areas of study remain: we need better drugs, well defined strategies for screening of pregnant women, improved food safety, and improved diagnostic tests.

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