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What is toxoplasmosis: symptoms, consequences and preventions

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

During the pregnancy stage, you should try to lead a lifestyle as healthy as possible to ensure the baby’s proper development. To do this, we are not only talking about choosing an adequate diet, doing moderate physical activity, and going to regular check-ups during pregnancy, but also about increasing care to avoid the spread of viruses that may be dangerous to the fetus.

Some infectious diseases that we must consider are rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis B, streptococcal infection, or toxoplasmosis, which we will talk about in this article since the latter can cause worrisome neonatal alterations. At FastlyHealwe explain the dangers of toxoplasmosis in pregnancy.

What is toxoplasmosis, and what are its symptoms?

Toxoplasmosis is a common infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which is often asymptomatic or produces mild flu-like symptoms. However, the disease can be transmitted to the placenta or the fetus in pregnant women, causing injury to the fetus and endangering life. The risk of transmission increases at the same rate as the pregnancy itself, up to 60% in the last trimester.

The parasite causes lesions in the baby’s tissues, which are information so that the consequences will be more serious the sooner the infection occurs. For this reason, an early diagnosis will be decisive when applying the appropriate treatment and thus reduce the chances of transmission to the fetus. Some drugs will minimize damage to the baby if, upon detecting the disease in the mother, the fetus is already affected.

How is toxoplasmosis spread?

Specialists consider that approximately half of the toxoplasmosis infections are produced by consuming raw or undercooked infected meat. This is why undercooked beef is among the foods that should not be eaten during pregnancy.

However, one of the main transmitters of toxoplasmosis in cats. Other foods such as parasitized fruits or vegetables can also be the source of infection. It occurs with contaminated water—, which usually contracts the disease by eating raw meat from infected prey. The parasite can reproduce in the cat’s intestines so that they are still present in their droppings and in the sand or box where the animal deposits them. In many cases, transmission from the cat to the person occurs by cleaning its feces.

The disease’s incubation period in humans is usually between 10 and 20 days. Still, it is essential to clarify that it cannot be transmitted from person to person, except in the case of pregnancy, through a blood transfusion or by transplantation of an organ containing the parasite.

Possible consequences of toxoplasmosis in the baby

The sequelae of the infection in the fetus will depend on the moment of gestation in which the contagion occurs. The later it has been, the less severe the complications will be.

Generally, toxoplasmosis in pregnancy often causes intrauterine growth retardation, which results in the baby’s low birth weight. This can cause problems with the brain, heart, muscles, lungs, liver, or digestive tract. Examples of this are eye damage, hydrocephalus, hearing loss, skin rashes, jaundice, anemia, seizures, or injuries to the central nervous system.

If contagion occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy, there is the possibility of miscarriage or death of the fetus.

Prevention of toxoplasmosis

If you are pregnant, you must take a blood test to verify that you do not suffer from the infection. Usually, this type of analysis is ordered to be carried out by the gynecologist when planning the pregnancy. However, they can also be carried out during the first weeks of pregnancy.

It is also essential to take into account some tips to prevent the spread of toxoplasmosis in pregnancy :

  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat, cold cuts, raw eggs, and unpasteurized milk, as they could be contaminated.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables carefully before consuming them.
  • Remember to wash your hands with soap and water after handling the foods mentioned above, avoiding touching your eyes, mouth, or nose if you have not washed them yet.
  • Avoid ordering salads or raw vegetables in bars and restaurants as a precaution.
  • Do not garden without gloves, as the parasite is also found in the soil.
  • If you have cats, try not to hunt birds or mice in the street, as they could get infected. Try to have someone else collect and clean the animal’s feces to avoid any risk.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy, we recommend that you enter our Pregnancy and baby health category.

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