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Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

In healthy people, the infection often goes away on its own. But babies and people whose bodies can't fight infection well will need to take medicine to treat the infection and prevent serious health problems.

If you get toxoplasmosis while you're pregnant, you'll take medicine that treats the infection. This medicine is called spiramycin, an antibiotic.2 Spiramycin collects in the placenta, the site through which the Toxoplasma gondii parasites travel to the fetus.

This medicine may:

  • Keep your baby from getting the infection.
  • Lower your baby's chance of having serious health problems if he or she does get it.

Your baby has a better chance of being healthy at birth if you get treatment while you're pregnant.

If an amniocentesis shows that a fetus is infected, a combination of antibiotics lowers the risk of birth defects and may cure the infection. Sulfadiazine plus pyrimethamine (an antibiotic commonly used for malaria) is sometimes used with the antibiotic spiramycin.2

Most newborns who have been infected with toxoplasmosis have no symptoms at birth. If your baby has the infection, he or she will need to take antibiotics for a year after birth. This lowers the chance of having problems later on.

How can you prevent toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?

There are several things you can do to avoid getting toxoplasmosis:

  • Wash your hands and anything you use to prepare raw meat, chicken, fish, fruits, or vegetables.
  • If you have a cat or are caring for one, ask someone to clean or empty the litter box while you're pregnant. Wash tables and counters well if a cat may have walked on them. If you have to clean the cat's litter box, wear gloves and a face mask. Be sure to wash your hands after you're done.
  • If you eat meat, make sure it has been fully cooked or frozen. Avoid dried meats, such as beef jerky.
  • If you touch soil, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands after you're done. Avoid contact with cat feces in your garden.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them.
  • Avoid untreated drinking water. This is a concern when you are in the wilderness or when you travel to a country where drinking water is not treated.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 29, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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