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Clin Infect Dis. 2013 May;56(9):1223-31. doi: 10.1093/cid/cit032. Epub 2013 Jan 29.

Congenital toxoplasma infection: monthly prenatal screening decreases transmission rate and improves clinical outcome at age 3 years.

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  • 1Hospices Civils de Lyon, Service de Parasitologie, et de Mycologie Médicale Hôpital de la Croix-Rousse, 69004 Lyon, France.



Toxoplasma infection during pregnancy exposes the fetus to risks of congenital infection and sequelae that depend heavily on gestational age (GA) at time of infection. Accurate risk estimates by GA are necessary to counsel parents and improve clinical decisions.


We analyzed data from pregnant women diagnosed with acute Toxoplasma infection in Lyon (France) from 1987 to 2008 and assessed how the risks of congenital toxoplasmosis and of clinical signs at age 3 years vary depending on GA at the time of maternal infection.


Among 2048 mother-infant pairs, 93.2% of mothers received prenatal treatment and 513 (24.7%) fetuses were infected. Because of a significant reduction in risk since 1992 when monthly screening was introduced (59.4% vs 46.6% at 26 GA weeks; P = .038), probabilities of infection were estimated on the basis of maternal infections diagnosed after mid-1992 (n = 1624). Probabilities of congenital infection were <10% for maternal infections before 12 weeks of gestation, rose to 20.0% at 19 weeks, and then continued increasing to 52.3% and almost 70% at 28 and 39 GA weeks, respectively. Because of a significant reduction in risk of clinical signs of congenital toxoplasmosis in infected children born from mothers diagnosed after 1995 when polymerase chain reaction testing on amniotic fluid was initiated (87/794 vs 46/1150; P = .012), probabilities of clinical signs at 3 years were estimated based on 1015 maternal infections diagnosed after 1995 including 207 infected children, with symptoms in 46 (22.2%).


These analyses demonstrated that introduction of monthly prenatal screening and improvement in antenatal diagnosis were associated with a significant reduction in the rate of congenital infection and a better outcome at 3 years of age in infected children. Our updated estimates will improve individual management and counseling in areas where genotype II Toxoplasma is predominant.

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