There are a number of common infections that pose serious problems for the fetus. Some of these are included in the food to avoid section such as Listeria, Campylobacter and Salmonella. This section will discuss the TORCH infections i.e. Toxoplasmosis, Other:  Varicella  (Chicken Pox)  and Parvovirus ( Slapped Cheek),  Rubella ( German Measles ), Cytomegalovirus and  Herpes Simplex.

Toxo plasmosis


Toxoplasma gondii is a common parasitic infection that is asymptomatic in most healthy people. Mothers who are infected for the first time in pregnancy can transmit it to their unborn baby .The risk of transmission and severity of the infection in the fetus depends on when in pregnancy the infection occurs. The parasite only reproduces in domestic cats so preventive measures are important to minimise the likelihood of infection.

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Parvovirus or slapped cheek disease

Parvovirus (Slapped Cheek Disease)

Infection with Parvovirus B19 causes a minor illness in children associated with a red rash on the cheeks and by adulthood 50-60% of people have already acquired the infection. In pregnancy if the infection occurs for the first time before 20 weeks gestation it is associated with a 10% chance of miscarriage and in a surviving fetus a 3% chance of  development of severe anaemia and myocarditis resulting in Hydrops fetalis, where the infant accumulate excessive fluid in their tissues . This may resolve spontaneously or lead to fetal death. It can be treated with in-utero blood transfusions.

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Cytomegalovirus CMV

Cytomegalovirus is a common infection  that causes a glandular fever like illness. Infection for the first time pregnancy results in transmission to the fetus in 1 in 3 cases. Congenital CMV syndrome is associated with severe sequelae such as central nervous system abnormalities, growth retardation, microcephaly (small head), visual and hearing problems. Symptoms are present at birth in 10% of cases and the greatest risk is when the infant is infected between 4-22 weeks gestation. Young children who acquire the infection excrete the virus is their saliva and urine for many months and they are usually the source of infection in the mother.


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Hep C

Hepatits C in pregnancy

This page has an excellent article on vertical transmission of Hepatitis C in the clinicians tools and resources section

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