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Infect Dis Obstet Gynecol. Sep 2005; 13(3): 161–165.
PMCID: PMC1784564

Prevention of toxoplasmosis in pregnancy: knowledge of risk factors.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Infection with Toxoplasma gondii is common and usually asymptomatic, although it can have catastrophic consequences in a pregnant woman if passed to her developing fetus. Counseling of pregnant women about risk factor reduction may reduce the risk of congenital toxoplasmosis. This study was undertaken to assess and compare the knowledge of obstetricians and internists or family practitioners regarding well-established risk factors for toxoplasmosis infection. METHODS: The study surveyed 102 obstetricians, internists and family practitioners to assess their knowledge of risk factors for toxoplasmosis infection as well as their practices for primary prevention counseling of pregnant women. Responses were analyzed for differences. RESULTS: Obstetricians were more likely than internists or family practitioners to provide appropriate counseling on reducing the two most common risk factors for toxoplasmosis infection (undercooked meat consumption and gardening without gloves). However, over one quarter of all participants inappropriately advised pregnant women to avoid all cat contact. Obstetricians, internists and family practitioners were all likely to fail to identify undercooked meat consumption as the primary risk factor for toxoplasmosis transmission. CONCLUSIONS: Obstetricians appear to provide more appropriate counseling for primary prevention of toxoplasmosis than internists and family practitioners, but both groups of physicians inappropriately advised avoidance of all cat contact. Education of obstetricians, internists and family practitioners on risk factors for toxoplasmosis transmission is needed and may lower the rate of congenital toxoplasmosis as well as decrease the frequency of cat abandonment during pregnancy.

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