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J Clin Microbiol. Oct 1990; 28(10): 2297–2301.
PMCID: PMC268165

Rapid prenatal diagnosis of congenital Toxoplasma infection by using polymerase chain reaction and amniotic fluid.


Infection of pregnant women with Toxoplasma gondii places the developing fetus at risk for congenital infection. We report a prospective study of 43 documented cases of acute maternal Toxoplasma infections acquired during gestation in which the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was evaluated for diagnosis of fetal infection and compared with the current standard methods. On the basis of direct lysis of pelleted amniotic fluid cells followed by amplification of a gene sequence specific for T. gondii, PCR correctly identified the presence of T. gondii in five of five samples of amniotic fluid from four proven cases of congenital infection. PCR also detected three of five positive cases from a nonprospective group. The two diagnostic methods of comparable speed, detection of specific immunoglobulin M from fetal blood and and inoculation of amniotic fluid into tissue culture, correctly identified only 3 and 4 of the 10 positive samples, respectively. The considerably more time-consuming methods of mouse inoculation of amniotic fluid and fetal blood both detected 7 of 10 positive samples. There were no false-positive diagnoses by any of the methods. Therefore, detection of T. gondii by PCR appears to be the most promising method for prenatal diagnosis of congenital Toxoplasma infection, since it is both extremely rapid and highly sensitive.

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Selected References

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