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PLoS Med. 2010 Oct 12;7(10). pii: e1000351. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000351.

Prenatal treatment for serious neurological sequelae of congenital toxoplasmosis: an observational prospective cohort study.

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1
Centre for Pediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UCL Institute of Child Health, London, United Kingdom.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The effectiveness of prenatal treatment to prevent serious neurological sequelae (SNSD) of congenital toxoplasmosis is not known.

METHODS AND FINDINGS:

Congenital toxoplasmosis was prospectively identified by universal prenatal or neonatal screening in 14 European centres and children were followed for a median of 4 years. We evaluated determinants of postnatal death or SNSD defined by one or more of functional neurological abnormalities, severe bilateral visual impairment, or pregnancy termination for confirmed congenital toxoplasmosis. Two-thirds of the cohort received prenatal treatment (189/293; 65%). 23/293 (8%) fetuses developed SNSD of which nine were pregnancy terminations. Prenatal treatment reduced the risk of SNSD. The odds ratio for prenatal treatment, adjusted for gestational age at maternal seroconversion, was 0.24 (95% Bayesian credible intervals 0.07-0.71). This effect was robust to most sensitivity analyses. The number of infected fetuses needed to be treated to prevent one case of SNSD was three (95% Bayesian credible intervals 2-15) after maternal seroconversion at 10 weeks, and 18 (9-75) at 30 weeks of gestation. Pyrimethamine-sulphonamide treatment did not reduce SNSD compared with spiramycin alone (adjusted odds ratio 0.78, 0.21-2.95). The proportion of live-born infants with intracranial lesions detected postnatally who developed SNSD was 31.0% (17.0%-38.1%).

CONCLUSION:

The finding that prenatal treatment reduced the risk of SNSD in infected fetuses should be interpreted with caution because of the low number of SNSD cases and uncertainty about the timing of maternal seroconversion. As these are observational data, policy decisions about screening require further evidence from a randomized trial of prenatal screening and from cost-effectiveness analyses that take into account the incidence and prevalence of maternal infection. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.

PMID:
20967235
PMCID:
PMC2953528
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pmed.1000351
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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