Pregnancy for the first time, is like starting your studies from ABCD because you are totally unaware of what you need to do? About the changes that are going to occur. So, you are worried about every small change and in such condition, if you get a disease, then you lose your patience. One such disease, to be worried about is Toxoplasmosis. But calm down, it can be treated and prevented. So, you must be thinking, what is Toxoplasmosis and how can it harm my baby?
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by protozoa, Toxoplasma gondii. Infection is transmitted through organism by eating infected raw or uncooked meat or when you come in contact with infected cat faeces. Although toxoplasmosis normally causes a mild illness in people with healthy immune systems, it’s risky during pregnancy because it may harm your baby. Fortunately, a number of women who contract the infection during pregnancy are still relatively small, and not all of them transmit it to their babies. The risk to your baby increases as your pregnancy progresses.
Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy: Causes and Prevention
The Effects of Toxoplasmosis in Pregnancy:-
Toxoplasmosis usually does not cause any symptoms and in most cases, a person cannot even realize that they have caught the infection. The symptoms are mild like flu. But if caught during pregnancy or few weeks before you get pregnant, and then it is risky for your unborn baby. There is an increased rate of
a) Abortion– it can occur spontaneously, known as miscarriage.
b) Stillbirths – a baby is born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy, don’t confuse it with miscarriage, as miscarriage means early pregnancy loss.
c) Premature birth– the baby born before completing 9 months of pregnancy.
d) Low birth weight– when the baby is born, if his weight is less than 1.5kg then it is considered as low birth weight.
e) Fever– temperature above 98 degrees Fahrenheit in new-borns is a cause for concern.
g) Damage to baby’s brain – it can lead to mental retardation.
h) Other organs- particularly eyes- It may cause eye damage even at childhood or adulthood. This can include reduced vision, blurred vision, pain, redness of the eye and often tearing.
Most infants who are infected while still in the womb have no symptoms at birth, but they may develop above-mentioned symptoms later in life.
How is it caused?
It is caused by ingesting anything that is infected with the parasite.
a) raw or uncooked meat
b) unwashed vegetables or fruits
c) cat faeces or soil contaminated with cat faeces
d) unpasteurized goat’s milk or dairy products made from it
e) drinking water contaminated with the parasite
As we all know that Prevention is better than cure. So, here are some tips to prevent the disease:-
- Avoid raw meat, cook meat well.
- Wash hands, chopping boards and utensils thoroughly after preparing raw meat.
- Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly before cooking and eating to remove all traces of soil.
- Don’t touch your mouth, nose, or eyes while preparing food, and always wash your hands before eating.
- Avoid unpasteurized goats’ milk and dairy products made from it.
- Keep animals especially cats away from areas you prepare or store food.
- Wear gloves when gardening and wash your hands after gardening, change your gloves.
- Handle cat’s faeces with gloves and wash your hands.
- Avoid walking barefoot in the garden.
- Cover the outdoor sandboxes.
If you take all these precautions you can prevent yourself and your baby from contracting the disease.
Now, you came to know that cat’s faeces can cause infection, that doesn’t mean that you will not keep the cat as your pet. Just be a bit careful, while handling litter. If you take all the precautions, then cats are not harmful to pregnant women.
If you are infected during pregnancy, medication is available. Medication can reduce infection severity. People with the weakened immune system should use preventive medication. Drugs that are recommended to you can prevent your body from absorbing folic acid. So, you are also advised to take additional folic acid. This will help your recovery process. You and your baby should be closely monitored during pregnancy and after your baby is born.
These were all the causes and symptoms of toxoplasmosis. It is always said that “A mother can do anything to keep her child safe”. So take all the precautions to keep yourself and your baby free of diseases. Healthy women will nurture a healthy child.
Hope this article was of help to you! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy, Healthy and Empowered Women!!