Toxoplasmosis is an infection of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii which is found in most animals but the only reproductive host is the cat, which acquires the cysts by eating infected birds and mice. It can be transmitted to humans by contact with cat litter, eating raw or partially cooked meat, drinking contaminated water and in unpasteurized dairy products.

If a woman acquires toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, the baby is usually infected in 45 per cent of cases and it is a very serious disease for the foetus. The risk to the baby is greater in the first trimester (first 12 weeks) of pregnancy, when an infection of toxoplasma can cause hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid on the brain), eye problems, convulsions, blindness and brain damage. Toxoplasmosis can also increase the risk of an early or late miscarriage.

In France pregnant women are routinely tested for toxoplasmosis, sometimes as often as once a month. If a pregnant woman becomes infected then, depending on the stage of pregnancy, advice is given as to the course of action. In this country, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have concluded that routine screening of toxoplasmosis for pregnant women is not ‘appropriate’, perhaps due to financial constraints. Once infected with toxoplasmosis, the person acquires life-long immunity.

Prevention is the best approach and that means that, up to four months before pregnancy and during pregnancy, the woman must not handle cat litter. If this is impossible then disposable gloves should be worn. Gloves should also be worn while gardening and hands should be washed thoroughly after changing cat litter, gardening and handling raw meat. If you eat meat only eat it when it is well cooked, wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly to remove soil, avoid unpasteurised dairy foods such as milk and cheese, and wash your hands before eating.

Genital Herpes

This virus is sexually transmitted. Once acquired, it can come and go, with attacks varying from slight red bumps to blisters. If a woman gets herpes for the first time during the early part of pregnancy it can increase the risk of miscarriage by up to 25 per cent. If herpes is active when the woman gets to term then she is usually offered a Caesarean. This is because, if delivered vaginally, the baby could contract herpes during the delivery and there is a possibility of brain damage, blindness or death.


This vaginal infection, gardnerella vaginalis, needs to be cleared up before conception. It can cause a burning sensation and also a grey or yellow discharge with a fishy smell.

Group  Haemolytic Streptococci

This is a very common bacteria, but it has links with premature rupture of the membranes and premature birth. If this infection is present during birth the mother needs to have antibiotics to prevent the infection spreading to her baby.


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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 at 7:21 am and is filed under Women's Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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