Common Health QuestionsBack
What are the risks of toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?
If you get toxoplasmosis for the first time while you're pregnant, or a few weeks before you conceive, there's a small risk the infection could cause:
- congenital toxoplasmosis (where the infection spreads to your baby), which may cause birth defects or problems after they're born
You won't usually develop any obvious symptoms yourself.
How common is toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?
The chances of getting toxoplasmosis for the first time during pregnancy are thought to be very small.
Some studies suggest only around 1 in 200 women become infected for the first time during pregnancy.
Even if you do become infected for the first time during pregnancy, this doesn't necessarily mean your baby is in danger. The infection doesn't spread to the baby in many cases (see below).
What are the chances of toxoplasmosis causing problems during pregnancy?
If you get toxoplasmosis for the first time during pregnancy, the risk to your child largely depends on when you were infected:
- infection in early pregnancy is less likely to spread to your baby, but if problems do develop they are likely to be more serious
- infection later in pregnancy is more likely to spread to your baby, but any problems that develop are likely to be less severe
It's estimated that only 1 in 10,000 to 30,000 babies is born with congenital toxoplasmosis in the UK.
What to do if you're concerned
If you're worried about getting toxoplasmosis while you're pregnant, read about how you can reduce your risk.
Pregnant women aren't routinely screened for toxoplasmosis in the UK, but you can ask your midwife or doctor for a blood test to check for the infection.
If this detects a recent infection, further tests may be carried out to check if your baby is affected and treatment may be given to reduce the risk of complications. Read more about diagnosing toxoplasmosis and treating toxoplasmosis.
Read the answers to more questions about infections during pregnancy.
- Why shouldn't I change the cat litter during pregnancy?
- Why should pregnant women avoid sheep during the lambing season?
- Which foods should I avoid during pregnancy?
- Infections in pregnancy that may affect your baby
- Antenatal checks and tests
If you get toxoplasmosis for the first time when you're pregnant, or up to three months before you conceive, there's a risk that the infection can pass to and damage your unborn baby (mother-to-child transmission) or cause miscarriage or stillbirth.