St. Luke's Hospital
Located in Chesterfield, MO
Main Number: 314-434-1500
Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia


    Congenital toxoplasmosis

    Congenital toxoplasmosis is a group of symptoms that occur when an unborn baby (fetus) is infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.


    The developing baby can become infected with toxoplasmosis if the mother becomes infected with toxoplasmosis during the pregnancy. The infection may spread to the developing baby during the pregnancy itself, or during labor or delivery.

    For the mother, the toxoplasmosis infection is generally mild, and she may not be aware of it. Infection of the developing baby, however, can cause severe problems. Infection early in pregnancy results in more severe problems than later infection.


    Up to half of the developing babies who become infected with toxoplasmosis during the pregnancy ae born early (prematurely). Congenital toxoplasmosis can damage the baby's eyes, nervous system, skin, and ears.

    Often, there are signs of infection in the baby at birth. However, newborns with milder infections may not have symptoms or problems for months or even years. If they are not treated, almost all develop problems (especially in the eyes) when they become adolescents.

    Symptoms may include:

    • Enlarged liver and spleen
    • Diarrhea or vomiting
    • Eye damage from inflammation of the retina or other parts of the eye
    • Feeding problems
    • Hearing loss
    • Jaundice (yellow skin)
    • Low birth weight (intrauterine growth restriction)
    • Skin rash (tiny red spots or bruising) at birth
    • Vision problems

    Brain and nervous system damage ranges from very mild to severe, and may include:

    • Seizures
    • Intellectual disability

    Exams and Tests

    The health care provider will examine the baby. The baby may have:

    • Swollen spleen and liver
    • Yellow skin (jaundice)
    • Inflammation of the eyes
    • Fluid on the brain (hydrocephalus)
    • Swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)
    • Large head size (macrocephaly) or smaller-than-normal head size (microcephaly)

    Tests that may be done during pregnancy include:

    • Amniotic fluid testing and fetal blood testing
    • Antibody titer
    • Ultrasound of the abdomen

    After birth, the following tests may be done on the baby:

    • Antibody studies on cord blood and cerebrospinal fluid
    • CT scan of the brain
    • MRI scan of the brain
    • Neurological exams
    • Standard eye exam
    • Toxoplasmosis test


    Spiramycin can treat infection in the pregnant mother.

    Pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine can treat fetal infection (diagnosed during the pregnancy).

    Treatment of infants with congenital toxoplasmosis typically includes pyrimethamine, sulfadiazine, and leucovorin for one year. Infants are also sometimes given steroids if their vision is threatened or if the protein level in the spinal fluid is high.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    The outcome depends on the severity of the congenital toxoplasmosis.

    Possible Complications

    • Hydrocephalus
    • Blindness or severe visual disability
    • Severe intellectual disability or other neurological problems

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you are pregnant and think you are at risk for toxoplasmosis (for example, if you have a cat and are the person who cleans the litter box).

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you are pregnant and have not received any prenatal care.


    Prospective or expectant mothers can be tested to find out if they are at risk for toxoplasmosis.

    Pregnant women who have cats as house pets may be at increased risk of developing toxoplasmosis. They should avoid contact with any materials that are potentially infected with cat feces, or that could be contaminated by insects exposed to cat feces (cockroaches, flies, etc.).

    Cook meat until it is well done, and wash your hands after handling raw meat.


    Petersen E. Toxoplasmosis. Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2007 Jun;12(3):214-23.


    • Congenital toxoplasmosis


      • Congenital toxoplasmosis


      Tests for Congenital toxoplasmosis

        Review Date: 6/18/2011

        Reviewed By: Kimberly G Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

        A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.

        Back  |  Top
        About Us
        Contact Us
        Locations & Directions
        Quality Reports
        Annual Reports
        Honors & Awards
        Community Health Needs

        Brain & Spine
        Sleep Medicine
        Urgent Care
        Women's Services
        All Services
        Patients & Visitors
        Locations & Directions
        Find a Physician
        Tour St. Luke's
        Patient & Visitor Information
        Contact Us
        Payment Options
        Financial Assistance
        Send a Card
        Mammogram Appointments
        Health Tools
        My Personal Health
        Spirit of Women
        Health Information & Tools
        Clinical Trials
        Employer Programs -
        Passport to Wellness

        Classes & Events
        Classes & Events
        Spirit of Women
        Donate & Volunteer
        Giving Opportunities
        Physicians & Employees
        For Physicians
        Remote Access
        Medical Residency Information
        Pharmacy Residency Information
        Physician CPOE Training
        St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
        Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Notice of Privacy Practices PDF  |  Patient Rights PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile