Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicians recommend screening for toxoplasmosis for all pregnant women, newborns

08.02.2005


Physicians found that signs, symptoms and identifiable risk factors are absent in more than half of the mothers of infants with congenital toxoplasmosis in a national study of children with this disease.



More than half of the pregnant women who were at risk for acute infection with Toxoplasma gondii could not be identified by history or routine examination. Therefore, the physicians recommend that systematic screening for acute acquired toxoplasmosis for all pregnant women in the United States during prenatal visits, as well as screening for congenital toxoplasmosis in all newborns, become standard medical practice. The group also emphasizes that confirmation of test results in reference laboratories and informed counseling are essential parts of the process.

An infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, toxoplasmosis can be harmful and potentially lethal to the children of women who acquire the infection during pregnancy.


In the February issue of the The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the researchers report that current clinical practice -- taking a careful history and performing a physical examination -- would identify only half of the at-risk mothers who have acquired the infection during pregnancy and have had infants with congenital toxoplasmosis. Screening through blood tests could have identified the rest, the researchers said.

"We have medicines that can help if we catch the infection and improve outcomes if we detect the infection early, but by only taking a careful history and examination we are missing many pregnant women and their infants who may benefit from treatment," said study co-author Rima McLeod, M.D., professor of ophthalmology and medical director of the Toxoplasmosis Center at the University of Chicago.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 million people in the United States probably carry the T. gondii parasite, but few have symptoms. The immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness. However, pregnant women should be cautious. If the infection is acquired for the first time while a woman is pregnant, it can cause serious problems. Infection of the fetus may cause severe eye and brain damage, and may result in crippling diseases in the newborn or later in life.

"Early detection and treatment of the T. gondii infection in the mother, fetus and infant can prevent or reduce the risks of ophthalmologic and/or neurologic damage," said Kenneth Boyer, M.D., chairman of pediatrics at Rush University Medical Center and a co-author of the study.

T. gondii infects humans through three principal routes: eating undercooked, infected meat; ingesting T. gondii oocysts that cats pass in their feces, with exposure occurring through cat litter or soil (examples include gardening, eating unwashed fruits and vegetables, water contamination); and a newly infected pregnant woman passing the infection to her fetus.

The physicians questioned the mothers of 131 children with confirmed congenital toxoplasmosis who were referred to the National Collaborative Treatment Trial. This is a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and is based in Chicago, but involves children throughout the United States.

The physicians gathered demographic data, including place of residence, age, race and socioeconomic status, and information about the mothers’ exposures to undercooked meats, cat litter, raw eggs and more. The physicians also asked the mothers if they experienced any illnesses, such as flulike symptoms including headaches, night sweats and swollen lymph nodes, which can be symptoms and signs of this infection in older children and adults.

Only 8 percent of the mothers in the study were screened by serologic testing for toxoplasmosis during pregnancy. The physicians said the finding is consistent with the infrequent screening of pregnant women in the United States for this infection.

The group found that 52 percent of mothers couldn’t recall an illness of any kind during pregnancy or identify risk factors, including ingestion of undercooked meats and or exposure to cat litter.

The physicians also found that demographics play no role in the occurrence of infections. "Acute toxoplasmosis and transmission to the fetus can affect individuals of any background and socioeconomic status," McLeod said.

In France and Austria, education about toxoplasmosis and screening for T. gondii is part of routine obstetrical care. Infection rates have been reduced by about 50 percent as a result of education. But this shows that other measures, such as blood tests during each month of pregnancy, are necessary so that doctors can identify the infection early. Treatment of the mother may help prevent the harmful consequences of the infection in the fetus.

Although most states require screening for a number of genetic and metabolic diseases in the newborn, including phenylketonuria, congenital hypothyroidism and congenital adrenal hyperplasia in the newborn, each of these genetic diseases is less common than toxoplasmosis. But there is no systematic program for screening for toxoplasmosis during pregnancy in the United States.

More than 10 years ago, Jack Remington, a co-author of the study and a professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and Marcus Krupp research chair and chairman of the department of immunology and infectious diseases at the Research Institute, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, wrote "the time has come" to better address the problem of this significant and treatable cause of loss of sight, hearing and cognition. This study indicates again that to detect this infection so it can be treated, systematic obstetrical and newborn screening for toxoplasmosis are needed. The authors suggest that this is long overdue in the United States.

"Clearly, we need to be doing more than we currently are doing to prevent this congenital infection and adverse consequences of the infection in the fetus and infant," McLeod said. "Education is important, but it is not sufficient."

Katie O’Boyle | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uchospitals.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified
20.02.2017 | Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

nachricht Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain
20.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>