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Indian J Pediatr. 2011 Jan;78(1):88-95. doi: 10.1007/s12098-010-0254-3. Epub 2010 Oct 16.

Congenital and perinatal infections: throwing new light with an old TORCH.

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Department of Pediatrics, St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore, 560034, India.


Infections acquired in utero or in the immediate post-natal period play a prominent role in perinatal and childhood morbidity. The TORCH constellation continues to be popular among perinatologists and paediatricians, although its limitations are increasingly known. A host of new organisms are now considered to be perpetrators of congenital and perinatal infections, and a diverse range of diagnostic tests are now available for confirming infection in the infant. In general, the collective TORCH serological panel has low diagnostic yield; instead individual tests ordered according to clinical presentation can contribute better towards appropriate diagnosis. This review captures the essence of established congenital infections such as cytomegalovirus, rubella, toxoplasmosis, syphilis and herpes simplex virus, as well as more recent entrants such as HIV and hepatitis B infection, varicella and tuberculosis. Selective screening of the mother and newborn, encouraging good personal hygiene and universal immunization are some measures that can contribute towards decreasing the incidence and morbidity of congenital and perinatal infections.

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