Women who have developed immunity to toxoplasmosis before pregnancy, that is, who have had this disease before, are not in danger of passing the infection to their babies. Once they have developed antibodies, they cannot become infected again. But when a pregnant woman first gets toxoplasmosis, there is a 40 percent chance of passing the infection to the fetus.
The risk and severity of the baby's infection will depend on the time of pregnancy when the mother contracts the infection. According to experts, if a pregnant woman is infected during the first three months of pregnancy, approximately 15 percent of fetuses are also infected. If the mother becomes infected during the second trimester of pregnancy, the chance that the fetus will be infected increases by 30 percent. And in the third trimester, there is a 60 percent chance that the fetus will become infected. Toxoplasmosis is transmitted to the fetus through the blood.
When a woman becomes ill during pregnancy, toxoplasmosis can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth of the baby. About one in ten babies is born with an obvious toxoplasmosis infection. Some may die within a few days of birth, while those who survive may suffer from infections of the eyes, liver, or spleen. Others may have pneumonia and jaundice (yellowish eyes and skin), or have more serious ailments such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, strokes, and other disorders.
A pregnant woman without antibodies to toxoplasmosis should take extra precautions to help reduce the chance of contracting the disease.
1. Cat. One of the first steps to consider is taking care of your contact with cats. Cats are one of the main transmitters of the parasite that causes infection. The infected cat transmits the disease through its feces. However, if proper precautions and hygiene are taken, cats will not pose any danger. It is recommended that you avoid touching or cleaning their things and use gloves. When the cat eats infected meat by coming into contact with rodents, for example, it contracts the disease. The parasites in their feces can be carried by the wind and settle on the surface of fruits, vegetables and legumes. If you have a cat at home, choose a feed-based diet, and make sure that the cat leaves the house as little as possible.
2. Raw meat and sausages. Consuming raw or undercooked meat can be the cause of contracting the disease. Sausages constitute a separate chapter, since being cured meat they can also be transmitters of toxoplasmosis. For this reason, if you have not had the disease, it is advisable that you do not eat chorizo, salami, Serrano or Iberian ham, sausage or stuffed loin. For this same reason, avoid taking smoked or salted products such as salmon or anchovies.
3. Vegetables, fruits and legumes. Toxoplasmosis can also be spread by eating unwashed fruits, vegetables, and legumes. It is advisable that, before consuming these foods, they are thoroughly washed using some pharmacy products or using a drop (only one) in the water in which they must be soaked for at least 5 minutes. Pregnant women should avoid cleaning cat litter boxes, gardening without gloves, and being meticulous about hand washing when handling raw meat and vegetables.
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