Updated article : September, 2023.
Toxoplasmosis is an infection we want to prevent in pregnant women. The information in this article can be added to your lifestyle habits to avoid becoming infected and harming your baby. You won’t likely be told about it by health professionals during your first visit. As a preventative measure, here is some pertinent information to prepare for a healthy pregnancy for mother and baby.
It’s an infectious disease caused by the parasite toxoplasma gondii. Most of the time, it is benign and not harmful if the infection takes place at the end of pregnancy. But if it occurs at the start, the situation can be very different. This is because cell development is at full speed and at its full potential. You should take the necessary precautions to prevent this disease from the start of your pregnancy. This will avoid the possible negative impacts on sight or hearing, or neurological afflictions such as epilepsy, or mental retardation.
You might be wondering how to know if you have the disease. Good question! After a blood test, technicians can identify antibodies that fight this parasite. If they are found, you have already contracted the disease in the past, so you are now immunised. However, this procedure is not part of standard pregnancy monitoring because you should prevent contact throughout your pregnancy.
If you become infected, the symptoms are very similar to the flu: headache, sore throat, fever, generalised muscle pain and swollen lymph nodes. As a consequence, this infection can go unnoticed.
The toxoplasmosis parasite can be transmitted in many ways:
- Exposure to the parasite in cat feces;
- By ingesting garden vegetables that have not been properly washed;
- By handling raw or undercooked meat;
- By eating raw-milk cheese;
- During travel;
- By pregnant women, who pass it on to their babies in utero.
Here are some practical suggestions to avoid infection:
- Wash your hands;
- Avoid changing cat litter, or wear gloves if you do;
- Wear gloves when gardening;
- Always cook meat;
- Never drink raw milk or eat raw milk-based cheeses;
- Wash and peel fruits and vegetables that were in contact with soil before eating them;
- Thoroughly clean utensils used to cook.
Now it’s up to you to follow these suggestions. You can also add them to the information you received during your prenatal classes that don’t really deal with this infection.
Please watch these videos for more information:
And the article about fungal infections (mycosis):
All the best,
The Baby Expert