Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Pregnancy health centre

Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy - How do I know if I have toxoplasmosis in pregnancy?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

You may not know if you've picked up toxoplasmosis while you're pregnant. That's because it often doesn't cause any symptoms.

Most healthy children and adults, including pregnant women, don't have any symptoms if they've got toxoplasmosis. In fact, they don't even know they've got it.[4]

About 1 in 10 infected people get a mild flu-like illness that can last for a few weeks. They may get symptoms such as:

  • A high temperature

  • Swollen glands

  • Headache

  • Sore throat

  • Muscle pain.

If you're pregnant and think there's a chance you may have become infected, you can have blood tests to find out for certain. For instance, you may want to be tested if you are concerned about flu-like symptoms you've had, or if you've eaten some meat that wasn't cooked properly.

If you're planning to get pregnant, you might also wish to have a blood test to see if you've already had toxoplasmosis. This would mean you're now immune to the disease.

Talk to your doctor or nurse if you would like a blood test for toxoplasmosis.

Having a blood test for toxoplasmosis

Only a little blood is needed for the blood test. The blood test will look for antibodies to the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis.[1][8] Antibodies are cells created by your immune system to fight infection. So if you have antibodies to the parasite in your blood, it means you have, or have had, the infection.

You may need to have more than one blood test. The tests will show not just whether you have been infected but also how recent that infection was. It is important to know this because antibodies can remain in your blood for as long as 18 months after you were first infected. But infection that happened more than three months before pregnancy is unlikely to affect your baby.

The tests for toxoplasmosis are not completely reliable because they often give false-positive results. This means they show positive for toxoplasmosis when it is not present, or mistake an old infection for a current one.[1] This is one reason why pregnant women are not routinely screened for toxoplasmosis in the UK.

If you're pregnant and you have HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus), your doctor will probably advise you to have the blood tests. That's because HIV, and some other conditions, weaken your immune system, and toxoplasmosis can cause serious health problems for you. Even if you've had toxoplasmosis in the past, HIV could weaken your body's defences and allow the infection to start up again.[1]

If your doctor does diagnose toxoplasmosis, the next step is to find out whether the infection has passed to your baby.

How can I find out if my baby has toxoplasmosis?

Amniocentesis or cordocentesis

Your doctor can find out if your baby is infected by doing a test called amniocentesis. For this, they will take a sample of the amniotic fluid (the fluid that surrounds your baby in the womb) by inserting a needle into your abdomen. Or they can take a sample of the baby's blood from the umbilical cord. This is called cordocentesis.

1 | 2 | 3
Last Updated: July 20, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
Next Article:

Parenting newsletter

Tips to inspire healthy habits.
Sign Up Now!

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Morning sickness

Morning sickness

Ginger or peppermint may help ease morning sickness. Learn about causes and treatments.

Popular Slideshows & Tools on Boots WebMD

woman looking at pregnancy test
Early pregnancy symptoms
donut on plate
The truth about sugar addiction
woman holding hair
Natural help for dry or damaged hair
woman in bikini
Get ready for swimsuit season
hand extinguishing cigarette
13 best tips to stop smoking
Immune-boosting foods
The role of diet
18 secrets men want you to know
boy looking at broccoli
Quick tips for feeding picky eaters
hamburger and fries
A guide for beginners
salmon dinner
A diet to boost your mood & energy
polka dot dress on hangar
Lose weight without dieting