What is toxoplasmosis? This is an infection that can potentially affect your pregnancy and in rare cases your babies if you caught it for the first time. It's as if pregnant women don't have enough things to worry about. But, you're not going to worry if you know enough about this type of infection.
Luckily, we gathered all the information you'll need so that you won't need to look around for it yourself. Learn more about toxoplasmosis in pregnancy as you read on.
Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy: Why it should alarm pregnant women
Toxoplasmosis is a type of fairly common symptomatic disease that can be caused by getting infected with a microbe called Toxoplasma. Like Measles, you can get infected by this disease only once. So, once you've had it, you won't be having another one again.
It's crucial to discuss when you get the infection. If you get it before getting pregnant, your body has enough resistance to fight it off. Get it just before getting pregnant or during, your immune system might not be as strong enough and can cause complications such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects in your baby after birth.
According to studies, getting this infection during pregnancy is rare and passing it onto the child is an even more rare occasion. Specifically, 1 in 10,000 babies is born with toxoplasma in the UK.
If you get infected within the 12 weeks of your pregnancy, there is less than one in 20 chance that your baby might be infected too.
So, the risk is low. But, of course, we're not going to let that good news get in the way of us knowing more about this disease. Your added knowledge of this disease could help a friend or a relative who may be unfortunate to be infected.
Upon birth, babies who test positive for toxoplasma are often observed to have:
- eye damage
- liver and spleen enlargement
Some of the well-known effects of being born with toxoplasma come later in the child's life. And, these are:
Causes of Toxoplasmosis in Pregnancy
So, how does one end up getting infected with toxoplasmosis? There are several factors that can cause this disease. And, simply preventing them can help ensure you don't get infected.
- Eating raw or undercooked meat (tip: always check if the meat you're cooking still has traces of blood or has any part of it that is pink)
- If you're eating cured meats (tip: just cook it all the way through just to be sure)
- Eating raw eggs
- Drinking unpasteurized goats' milk or unpasteurized goats' milk products
- Touching pregnant sheep or lambs
- Eating food contaminated with soil or cat poo
- Contaminating food with cat poo by touching a cat litter box and then touching food
Image Source: iStock
So, it really is just making sure to cook your meat through and keeping proper hand hygiene at all times that you get to avoid getting infected with toxoplasmosis.
How to prevent Toxoplasmosis
Apart from avoiding these causes, you might want to do the following as well to lessen your chances of catching toxoplasmosis:
- Cover children's sandpits after playtime to prevent cats from using them as litter boxes
- Always wash before and after handling meat
Image Source: Pixabay
- Thoroughly wash knives and cutting boards or any other kitchen tools used to handle meat
- Always wear gloves when you're gardening and wash your hands before and after
- Keep your cats away from your gardening
- Always wash your fruits and vegetables before cooking or eating them
- If you have a pet at home, leave cleaning up your cat or dog's litter to someone else.
Of course, you can be the neatest person on the planet, and you can still get infected. The good thing is when you get infected with this disease, you'd still be able to function.
On the brighter side, getting this infection is not the end of the world, as your body may have already become immune to this microbe and therefore making it impossible for you to get infected again.
Symptoms of Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy
But, of course, not everything is under our control. If, for reasons even after closely monitoring the way you cook your food or clean or handle your pets at home, you feel like you are infected with toxoplasmosis, keep these signs in mind:
If you experience any of these symptoms, you ought to go to your doctor and get some tests done. Many of these symptoms appear like you have the flu, and taking some tests will help calm you down if in fact what you have is a common flu instead of toxoplasmosis.
How to test for Toxoplasmosis
A blood test can confirm if you've been infected with this disease. Usually, you'll be asked to wait 3 weeks before getting tested as following antibodies after fighting off an infection takes quite some time. The test can be as accurate as finding out if you're positive for the infection as well as when the infection happened.
If and when you get a positive result from your blood test, further tests will be done to confirm if you have passed it on to your child. They can test the fluid around the fetus or fetus's blood to check if they have been infected with the disease. If not, the infection may also be visible through an ultrasound. Another option would be to check if they're infected after birth.
Treatment for Toxoplasmosis
Like with any infection, the only way to treat toxoplasmosis is through antibiotics. The whole point of antibiotics is to help ensure your child does not inherit the infection.
If in case, your baby does get infected. The antibiotics that will be prescribed to you will only be useful to prevent or lessen problems with your baby.
You will also be asked to take Calcium Folinate to ensure the continuous development of your baby.
These two medications will be your buddy for the entire 9 months of your journey.
As for your baby, if they are born with toxoplasmosis, they will be prescribed antibiotics too and will be asked to take this medicine until they reach 1 year old or until their immune system has become strong enough to fight the infection.
Then, every month until they turn 1 year old, your baby will be tested to check on their progress.
You might also be asking if you can breastfeed if you've been infected with the disease. CDC recommends that you proceed with breastfeeding even when you have an active infection. In fact, breastfeeding your newborn can help strengthen their immune system against infection. Just make sure to check if you have any broken skin or bleeding in the nipple area. In the event that happens, contact your health provider.
There you have it, moms. A quick and easy read on toxoplasmosis will give you sufficient insight and preparation should you join the team and get pregnant yourself.
Pregnant with twins checkup | Image from Pexels
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