Contracting toxoplasmosis infection during pregnancy can be harmful for the foetus. Let us take a look at the causes of toxoplasmosis and some measures to prevent this infection.
What is Toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is an infection that is transmitted through cats, raw meat or unpasteurized milk. It is contracted by eating uncooked meat or by ingesting toxoplasma as a result of contact with cat containing the organism. Unfortunately, people who contract this infection usually do not display any symptoms. Occasionally some experience a mild feeling of malaise, slight fever, and swollen glands two or three days after exposure, followed by a rash a day or two later. The only way to be absolutely sure is by taking a blood test.
How Does Toxoplasmosis Affect Pregnancy?
The occurrence of toxoplasmosis in the mother can cause foetal damage including permanent eye damage and mental retardation. An important consideration is the stage of pregnancy at which the infection occurs. The risk of foetal infection is inversely proportionate to the likelihood of foetal damage.
The risk of foetal infection in the first trimester is about 15%, but the risk of foetal damage is high. In the second trimester, the likelihood of the foetus getting infected increases, but the risk of foetal damage reduces. The baby is most likely to be infected in the third trimester, but there is the least risk of foetal damage.
How Does Testing for Toxoplasmosis Help?
There are medical tests available that you can go for to know if you are suffering from toxoplasmosis. The tests shall also let you know if you had been infected in the past. You need to be present for the routine tests and you may ask your healthcare provider to get you tested before you become pregnant.
Toxoplasmosis in Pregnancy
There are chances of you transmitting the infection to your unborn child through the placenta. Infection in the early stages holds little chances of transmission to the baby, again the chances of your baby getting infected increases in the later phases of pregnancy. However, even if infected, babies show no significant symptoms when born. According to doctors those infected may however suffer from visual or hearing disabilities later in their life.
How to Know if the Baby is Infected?
In case you are suffering from this in pregnancy, you must be worried aboutyour baby getting infected by the same. Here is what you can do to check if she is infected:
Your doctor may suggest a test of your amniotic fluid surrounding your little one. Sometimes testing of foetal blood is also suggested.
According to estimates every third baby infected with toxoplasmosis can be detected by an ultrasound scan.
Doctor may suggest testing of blood of the baby after being born.
Treatment for Toxoplasmosis in Pregnancy
It is possible to treat toxoplasmosis in pregnancy. Doctors generally suggest antibiotics to help you fight against such infections. It is very important to diagnose the infected woman and start treatment as early as possible. The symptoms shall get less severe when your infected unborn child is diagnosed and treated at an early stage. Sometimes babies are prescribed drugs in the first year after birth. The medications may even increase according to requirements.
Tips to Prevent Toxoplasmosis during Pregnancy
Here are some valuable tips you can consider to prevent such occurrences in pregnancy. Take a look:
Cook Food Properly
It is important to cook foods at high temperature. You can also use a food thermometer to know if the food is well cooked. The meat must not appear pink and ensure that the juices are clear.
Maintain Proper Hygiene
You must wash fruits and veggies well before cooking. The counters, utensils, cutting boards and your hands must be well washed. Also ensure the soapy water from your hands is washed away well.
Use Gloves while Gardening
If you are gardening, you must use gloves. If you come in contact with the sand and soil, wash yourself well, as you may touch the cat or dog faeces also. Washing hands is very essential after your gardening chores.
Avoid Cleaning Pet Litter
If you are pregnant, it is better not to clean the pet litter yourself. In case you get no help, make sure to use gloves and wash yourself well. Keep your pets inside and stay away from adopted or the stray pets. Your pets should be fed on well cooked meats. Avoid the undercooked or raw items preferably.
These are some of the precautionary measures you may consider to stay safe and healthy in pregnancy. For further queries and questions you may always get in touch with your doctor.
What are the symptoms of toxoplasmosis? How is toxoplasmosis treated during pregnancy? What are the harmful effects of contracting toxoplasmosis during pregnancy? Discuss here.
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- The Indiaparenting Team