Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii that can affect the growing baby in pregnancy.

What is toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. In non-pregnant women it doesn’t have many symptoms. In fact, many people will never know they have had it. Some people may have mild flu-like symptoms. A few may experience a more long-term illness similar to glandular fever and swollen lymph nodes.

Although toxoplasmosis normally causes a mild illness in people with healthy immune systems, it's risky during pregnancy because it may harm your baby. 

The parasite can be found in meat, cat faeces, the soil where cats defecate and unpasteurised goats’ milk. The toxoplasma parasite can infect most birds and warm-blooded animals, including humans. Cats are the only animals that can have infected faeces. After it catches the infection through eating birds, mice or other raw meat, a cat can shed infectious faeces for about 14 days.

Toxoplasmosis cannot be caught by stroking a cat or having a cat as a pet. The infection comes from coming into contact with the infected faeces of a cat.

How common is toxoplasmosis?

It is estimated that between a third and half of the UK population will have the infection at some point in their lives. Once you have had the infection, you are then immune for life – you cannot catch it again. 

The chances of getting toxoplasmosis for the first time during pregnancy are thought to be very small. Even if you do become infected, this doesn't mean your baby will definitely get it. In many cases the infection doesn't spread to the baby. It's estimated that only 1 in 10,000 babies is born with toxoplasmosis in the UK.

Most pregnant women may never know they have been infected unless they experience problems during their pregnancy that mean they have tests. However the infection often has no symptoms at all.

The effects of toxoplasmosis in pregnancy

Toxoplasmosis does not usually cause any symptoms and in most cases a person does not realise they have caught the infection. It can cause symptoms similar to flu or glandular fever, sometimes including swollen lymph nodes. Once a person has had the disease they are generally thought to be protected for life, unless they suffer an impairment of their immune system.

Risks of toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is only a risk to an unborn baby if caught for the first time during pregnancy or within a few weeks before you get pregnant.

If an unborn baby catches the disease they are said to have ‘congenital toxoplasmosis’. The damage the infection may cause will depend on when in pregnancy you got the infection.

If you catch toxoplasmosis for the first time during pregnancy, it does not mean that your baby will be infected.

On average, only 4 in 10 of such infections will pass to the baby. Caught during pregnancy, toxoplasmosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or damage to the baby’s brain and other organs, particularly the eyes.

However, most babies born with toxoplasmosis have no obvious damage at birth but develop symptoms, usually eye damage, during childhood or even adulthood. A few will have more serious symptoms such as blindness or brain damage. 

How is toxoplasmosis caught?

Toxoplasmosis is caught by swallowing anything infected with, or contaminated by, the parasite.
This could be:

  • raw or undercooked meat (meat showing any traces of pink or blood), and raw cured meat such as Parma ham or salami
  • unwashed vegetables and fruit
  • cat faeces or soil contaminated with cat faeces
  • unpasteurised goats’ milk and dairy products made from it.

The infection can also be passed:

  • through the placenta if the mother becomes infected infection (mother to unborn baby).
  • through infected matter entering human body fluids; if, for example, during the process of lambing, material splashes into eyes or open cuts.
  • through transplanted organs or blood products from other humans that are infected toxoplasmosis
  • through inhaling the parasite eggs (possible but very unusual).

Person-to-person infection is not possible, except from mother to unborn child.

Who is at risk of toxoplasmosis?

Anyone who eats anything infected with the parasite. Pregnant women who work on the land, in catering or farming may be at higher risk as they may be more likely to come into contact with the parasite. Lambing is a particular risk for pregnant women.

Tips to avoid toxoplasmosis during pregnancy

Only eat meat that has been thoroughly cooked (ie, with no trace of blood or pinkness).

  • Avoid raw meat and cured meat, such as Parma ham.
  • Wash hands, chopping boards and utensils thoroughly after preparing raw meat.
  • Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly before cooking/eating to remove all traces of soil.
  • Avoid unpasteurised goats’ milk and dairy products made from it.
  • Wear gloves when gardening and wash hands and gloves afterwards – if you eat while gardening wash your hands first, and try to avoid gardening in areas that may have been soiled with cat faeces.
  • Cover children’s sandpits to prevent cats using them as litter boxes.
  • Remove faeces from cat litter tray every day wearing rubber gloves (or ask someone else do this), scald trays regularly with boiling water.
  • If you are handling litter trays, wash gloves and hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Do not handle lambing ewes and do not bring lambs into the house.

Can I change the cat litter tray while pregnant?

Cats are the only animals that can shed this parasite in their faeces. Provided precautions are taken, cats are not a particular risk to a pregnant woman. If you are handling litter trays, wash gloves and hands thoroughly afterwards.

What should I do if I think I may have toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is not routinely tested for during pregnancy in the UK. You may however request a blood test from your GP if you feel you may have put yourself at risk, you are concerned about symptoms.

The blood test looks for antibodies – the body’s natural defences – to the infection. It may take three weeks for these antibodies to be present following an infection, so the blood test will only pick up an infection that you’ve had for at least three weeks. Depending on the type of antibodies found and whether levels are stable, rising or falling, it’s possible to determine when the infection took place.

The results may come back in a week, or longer if they have been passed on to a Toxoplasma Reference Laboratory .

Tests for toxoplasmosis in pregnancy

Blood tests for toxoplasmosis can be done at any stage before or during pregnancy. The blood test can usually only show possible infection two to three weeks after any risk incident, as it can take this long for antibodies to be detectable.

The blood test involves taking a small amount of blood from the mother. There is no risk to the unborn baby. The blood test aims to show whether certain antibodies indicating toxoplasmosis are present or not, and, if they are present, to find out when the infection happened.

If the tests show that there is a recent or current infection, there is a risk that the baby will be infected. The obstetrician or GP will make a recommendation about any further action that might be required. It may take several weeks for the infection to pass from you to your baby. The degree of risk and severity of damage depends on when you were infected.

A positive result due to a current/recent infection

If the test shows a current or recent infection the blood must be sent on from the local laboratory to the Toxoplasma Reference Laboratory, for confirmation and further testing.

A small percentage of tests will appear positive when in reality a woman has never had the disease.

If further tests show that you have a current or recent infection, it means you are suffering from an acute toxoplasma infection. Further action needs to be taken to assess the risk of passing the infection on to your baby.

If you were infected shortly before conception

Infection caught shortly before conception (within a few weeks before) carries a one percent risk or below of transmission to the baby, but there is a risk of miscarriage if the baby does become infected.

If you were infected in the first trimester (week one to 12)

Infection caught at this stage of pregnancy carries about 10-15% risk of transmission to the baby. A baby infected at this stage has a risk of being miscarried or born with severe symptoms such as hydrocephalus (water on the brain), calcifications of the brain, or retinochoroiditis (inflammation of the retina).

If you were infected in the second trimester (week 13 to 28)

Infection caught at this stage of pregnancy brings about 25% risk of transmission. A baby infected at this stage is less likely to be miscarried, but is still at risk of developing severe symptoms as above.

If you were infected in the third trimester (week 29 to 40)

Infection caught later in pregnancy is more likely to spread to your baby, the risk of transmission may be as high as 70–80%, but if problems develop, they are less likely to be as serious. Most babies infected will be apparently healthy at birth, but a large proportion will develop symptoms later in life, usually eye damage.

Finding out if the baby has been infected

Further tests can be carried out to find out whether or not the baby is infected, although the tests will not show how severe the damage is. An obstetrician or GP can explain the risks and benefits of conducting these tests.

Amniocentesis is a technique where amniotic fluid is removed by a fine needle from the amniotic sac – the fluid-filled sac around the baby.

Cordocentesis is a technique where a sample of the baby’s blood is removed from the umbilical cord.

These procedures carry a .5-1% percent risk of causing miscarriage. They are normally carried out after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The amniotic fluid or blood from the umbilical cord is then tested at the Toxoplasma Reference Laboratory using a range of specialised tests.

If this is positive, the baby will be considered to be infected. Results typically take two to five days. A detailed ultrasound scan will show if there is major damage, such as hydrocephalus (water on the brain), but a scan that shows no damage, while reassuring, does not rule out the possibility that the baby is both infected and affected.

Treatment of toxoplasmosis in pregnancy

If you have a positive blood test result, you may be prescribed an antibiotic called spiramycin, which reduces the risk of the infection being passed from you to the baby. Spiramycin only reduces the risk of transmission from mother to baby and is not active against the parasite. It therefore cannot limit any damage if a baby has already become infected.

If the baby is found to be infected, a combination of pyrimethamine and sulphadiazine can be taken. These are both stronger antibiotics and help limit any damage to the baby, although again, they cannot undo any damage.

At 20 weeks an ultrasound scan may also highlight any obvious physical problems in the baby. Termination of pregnancy is also an option for some women, when an infected baby with severe developmental problems has been confirmed.

All babies born to women with confirmed toxoplasmosis in pregnancy will be monitored closely by paediatricians and receive blood tests during their first year.

Side effects of treatments

Spiramycin is used routinely in France for treatment of toxoplasmosis in pregnancy, with little evidence of adverse effects. Experts consider that it is safe to use in pregnancy when a baby is at risk. Women taking spiramycin sometimes experience side effects such as nausea or rashes. Pyrimethamine and sulphadiazine can have side effects for both the mother and baby related to red-blood cell production. Although not normally prescribed in pregnancy, they can be used in extreme circumstances. They are taken with folinic acid, which helps to reduce the worst side effects.

All babies born to women who have had a recent or current infection in pregnancy should be given a thorough physical examination after birth, followed by blood tests during the first year of the baby’s life.

Treatment after the baby is born

Blood sample

A blood sample should be taken from at-risk babies shortly after birth. A blood sample should also then be taken from you to compare the levels of specific antibodies between you and your baby.

Tests will be carried out to look for different types of antibodies to toxoplasmosis in the baby’s blood. Your baby carries some of your antibodies, so a positive result is expected and not necessarily alarming. If additional antibodies are present, this may indicate that your baby is infected.

Other checks/examinations

Babies who are known to be at risk of having congenital toxoplasmosis should be checked for signs of neurological damage. The eyes will be examined for signs of any problem, preferably by an ophthalmologist (eye specialist). Long-term follow-up by an ophthalmologist might be necessary if eye damage is confirmed.

Your baby’s general health will also be checked. If there is any possibility that the baby has brain damage, special head X-rays might be carried out to check for calcifications, enlarged ventricles or any other abnormalities.

Treatment for babies who have been infected with toxoplasmosis

If blood tests showed that your baby has been infected, antibiotics might be prescribed, even if your baby shows no symptoms. Treatment can sometimes be continued for as long as one year, to help prevent or limit the eye damage that can possibly occur later.

Further tests/examinations

A blood sample taken every few months, up to the age of one year, can show whether your baby’s antibody level is falling. By that age, the level should be completely negative. This means that your baby will have lost the antibodies acquired from you and is not infected. When your baby’s blood sample is completely antibody-negative, it means they are definitely not congenitally infected. A falling antibody level is a good sign, but is not conclusive and tests should continue until the antibody level is completely negative.


Breastfeeding is safe if you have toxoplasmosis, the disease cannot be transmitted this way. You are also passing on extra antibodies to your baby, making their immune system stronger. Breastfeeding is therefore recommended, unless you are being treated with pyrimethamine. This medication should be changed before breastfeeding.

UK government policy on toxoplasmosis screening

The UK National Screening Committee recently reported that screening for toxoplasmosis in pregnancy should not be offered routinely as there is not enough evidence that it would help .

The Committee suggests that getting pregnant women to avoid undercooked or cured meat and communicating the best ways of avoiding infection is a better way of controlling toxoplasmosis than antenatal screening.


  1. Ho-Yen DO, Joss AWL (eds.) Human Toxoplasmosis. Oxford Oxford Medical Publications, 1992
  2. Joynson DHM, Wreghitt TG. Toxoplasmosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Guide. Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 2001
  3. The Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food. Risk Profile in Relation to Toxoplasma in the Food Chain. London Foods Standards Agency, 2012
  4. Hall S, Ryan M, Buxton D. The epidemiology of toxoplasma infection in Joynson DHM, Wreghitt TG, (eds.) Toxoplasmosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Guide. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001: 58-124.5
  5. Elsheikha HM. Congenital toxoplasmosis: priorities for further health promotion action. Public Health, 2008; 122(4): 335-53
  6. Krick JA and Remington JS. Toxoplasmosis in the adult overview. N England J Med 1978; 298: 550-3.7
  7. Thulliez P. Maternal and foetal infection, In Joynson DHM, Wreghitt TG, (eds). Toxoplasmosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Guide, Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 2001: 193-213.8
  8. Remington JS, McLeod R, Desmonts G. Toxoplasmosis. In Remington JS, Krupp MA, Klein JO (eds), Infectious Diseases of the Fetus and Newborn Infant, 5th Ed. Philadelphia W.B. Saunders Company, 2000: 205-346.9
  9. Public Health Wales. Results of Toxoplasma Study. Cardiff Public Health Wales, 2007 (available at: (accessed December 2013)
  10. Health Protection Agency. Investigation of Toxoplasma Infection in Pregnancy. UK Standards for Microbiology Investigations 5 Issue 2.2. London HPS, 2012  ( (accessed December 2013)
  11. Toxoplasma Reference Unit, Public Health Wales, Edward Guy. Personal communication, 2012
  12. Desmonts G, Couvreur J, Thulliez P. Congenital Toxoplasmosis: Five cases with mother-to-child transmission of pre-pregnancy infection. Press Med 1990; 19: 1445-49.13
  13. Dunn D et al. Mother-to-child transmission of toxoplasmosis: risk estimates for clinical counselling. Lancet 1999; 353: 1829-33.14
  14. Hohlfeld P et al. Prenatal diagnosis of congenital toxoplasmosis with a polymerase-chain-reaction test on amniotic fluid. N Engl J Med 1994; 331: 695-9.15
  15. Gras L et al. Association between prenatal treatment and clinical manifestations of congenital toxoplasmosis in infancy: a cohort study in 13 European centres. Acta Paediatr 2005; 94: 1721-31.16
  16. McCabe R.E. Anti-Toxoplasma Chemotherapy. In Joynson DHM, Wreghitt TG (eds.) Toxoplasmosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Guide. Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 2001: 319-359
  17. Daveluy et al, for the Eurotoxo Group (panel 2). Review of data related to side effects of drugs used in congenital toxoplasmosis [unpublished report]. Bordeaux, France The Eurotoxo Group, 2005 
  18. Alex W, Joss L. Treatment. In Ho-Yen DO, Joss AWL (eds.) Human Toxoplasmosis. Oxford Oxford Medical Publications, 1992: 119-143
  19. Eaton RB et al. Newborn screening for congenital toxoplasma infection. In Joynson DHM, Wreghitt TG (eds) Toxoplasmosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Guide. Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 2001: 241-253
  20. Sanchez PJ and Ahmed A. Toxoplasmosis, Syphilis, Malaria and Tuberculosis. In Taeusch HW, Ballard RA, Gleason CA (eds.) Avery’s Diseases of the Newborn, 8th Ed. Philadelphia Elsevier Saunders, 2004: 531
  21. Bonametti AM, Passos JN. Research Letters (to the editor): Re: Probable transmission of acute toxoplasmosis through breastfeeding. Journal of Tropical Paediatrics 1997; 43: 116
  22. Goldfarb J. Breastfeeding. AIDS and other infectious diseases. Clin Perinatol 1993; 20: 225-243
  23. NSC (2015) Antenatal screening for Toxoplasmosis. External review against criterIA set by the UK Mational Screening Committee, UK National Screening Committee file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/Review_Toxoplasmosis_2016.pdf
  24. NHS Choices Toxoplasmosis
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    Last reviewed on October 3rd, 2016. Next review date October 3rd, 2019.

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    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Jan 2019 - 09:33

      Hi, Unfortunately only you can make that call. Catching toxoplasmosis in this way would be very unlikely but if you are looking for certainty, the only way to know is to do a test.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 25 Dec 2018 - 13:09

      Hi, while preparing Christmas Dinner my toddler managed to touch the turkey giblets and internal turkey packaging. Before I could help her wash her hands she had a weeing accident over us both. While I was trying to clean her up, before we'd washed her hands, she somehow accidentally put her hands in straight in my mouth. I'm 25 weeks and terrified of getting infected from the transference. What do I do now? Am I being overly paranoid?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Jan 2019 - 09:39

      Yes, I do think that you are worrying too much. There is no good reason to believe that the turkey giblets were infected with toxoplasmosis. Try to get this into perspective and just practice good hand hygiene which is I am sure what you do already. Take care

    • By Ar (not verified) on 24 Dec 2018 - 19:53

      Hello i just come in direct contact with cat feaces recently because they poo on our mattress while im sleeping, i was immediately awake when i come and contact it cause its feels wet, my husband cleans it with tissue first then i immediatly wash my skin and my husband clean the faeces right away. Im 21 weeks. Im very worried, am i at risk?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jan 2019 - 16:57

      Hi Ar,
      Unless you have ingested the faeces in anyway then you would not be at any risk. It is important to try to avoid this situation again though and practising regular hand washing and avoid the cat faeces.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Anne (not verified) on 16 Dec 2018 - 10:04

      Hi. Is it possible to get toxoplasmosis from hard surfaces? For example, floors being stepped on shoes that may have stepped on cat poo. I walked barefoot on our kitchen floor and accidentaly stepped on something sharp and cut myself. We often walked with shoes on the floor

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Dec 2018 - 13:50

      Hi Anne, I would imagine that when you cut yourself, you cleaned and covered the wound straight away. It is extremely unlikely that the infection would have been caught this way. If you follow the guidance above, you will be doing everything reasonable to reduce your risk of contracting toxoplasmosis.

    • By Kayleigh (not verified) on 13 Dec 2018 - 19:40

      I ate out a couple of weeks ago Saturday and had a burger. I sent it back because it was still pink inside. They brought it back and it appeared fine but after eating more I found more bits which were pink so I’m worried I ate some. I discussed it with my midwife and she said there is no risk from beef!? Two days after I ordered steak takeaway fajitas whilst on holiday, again asking for it to be well done and it was pink inside so I cooked it through but again found pink bits whilst eating. I’m feeling so anxious about it I just don’t know what to do?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Dec 2018 - 16:44

      Hi Kayleigh
      If you have not been unwell. it is unlikely that you have been affected with toxoplasmosis. It is very rare for women to be afffected in this type of scenario and I would not suggest this has been a high risk activity. Just try to ensure that your meat is well cooked for the rest of the pregnancy and ensure good hand hygiene at all times. take care x

    • By May (not verified) on 9 Dec 2018 - 00:41

      I am worried I may have exposed myself to toxoplasmosis. I went to a dessert restaurant call Kaspas, I ordered a strawberry waffle. While eating I glanced over to my bf plate and saw a moving worm. I then check my plate throughly, I did not see a moving worm in my plate but I realise that the strawberries were not washed properly as I saw a leaf and a black whole.
      Secondly , I did not know that cleaning meat and fish without gloves during pregnancy is not advisable, I always wash my hands and clean my environment after cleaning meats and fish .
      Someone please let me know if I have truly expose myself or I’m over thinking .
      Thanks .

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Dec 2018 - 16:22

      Hi May, I don't think you are high risk for contracting toxoplasmosis. We don't recommend that you wear gloves to prepare meat and fish, just that you wash your hands after the preparation. I can't really make comment about the 'worm' but you will no doubt be relieved that it wasn't found on your plate.

    • By Thelma (not verified) on 6 Dec 2018 - 04:21

      Hi.. im 18 weeks pregnant and i was once invited for a dinnef from our friend... we happened to have fondue chinoise as our dinner and they dont give us extra plate for the raw i have to put the raw meat on my dinner plate... and im so anxious because the juice of the raw meat have might mixed in to some other foods on my plate.. am i in risk for toxoplasmosis? I am really worry... thanks.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Dec 2018 - 16:26

      Hi Thelma, I can't advise about this scenario except to say that if you are concerned you can ask your doctor or midwife to run a toxoplasmosis screen. Best wishes

    • By Kate S (not verified) on 2 Dec 2018 - 14:33


      I have 2 seven month old cats and clean their litter tray. They don’t kill animals (yet) as only spend short periods outdoors and eat cat biscuits. I have just found out I’m 8/9 weeks pregnant and am really worried. I do wash my hands thoroughly and have now ordered gloves to change the litter so will use those. I’m really worried I’ve caused an infection. Can I ask for this to be included in booking bloods? Am I likely to be at risk. I’m very anxious anyway.


    • By Midwife @Tommys on 3 Dec 2018 - 16:18

      Hi Kate, I would say that this doesn't increase your risk of toxoplasmosis above that of other pregnant women. As long as you wear gloves when changing litter trays and wash your hands after and before preparing food. Of course you can request a test and see whether this is possible. Take care

    • By Jen (not verified) on 29 Nov 2018 - 08:36

      Hi, two concerns. First, I ate slow cooked beef brisket last night - it was cooked at 100 Celsius in the oven for 20 hours and the meat was fibrous and fell apart (was also a bit dry!) but appeared to have a pink tinge in some places - I’m not sure if this could be a risk? Second, i opened a letter that had come through our letterbox the previous day. Our porch has shoes and mud and soil and dust in it from outside and while I didn’t see anything on the envelope I’m still worried as I after handling the envelope took something out of my mouth with my fingers. Is it a risk if there is nothing physically on my hands besides dust? Thanks

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 30 Nov 2018 - 12:11

      Hi Jen,
      Please try not to worry, from what you have described there does not appear to be any risk of contracting toxoplasmosis. Slow cooked meat often still has a pink appearance, it would be definitely cooked through after 20 hours. With regards to the dust, again this is extremely negligible of contracting anything from this.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By BB18 (not verified) on 27 Nov 2018 - 14:25

      Hi, I am looking for some advice as my health care providers do not seem to be clear about the course of testing or treatment for my daughter and I can't find advice anywhere else.

      I tested positive for toxoplasmosis during pregnancy and the infection date was narrowed down to sometime between 28-30 weeks. At 35 weeks my amniocentesis result was that it had not crossed the placenta. I was not Medicated for the remainder of my pregnancy and baby showed no signs of toxo on a 35 week scan.

      My consultant informed me that baby would need a paediatric check after birth to confirm that baby had not been infected by the toxoplasmosis. My baby is now 1 month old and I have no paediatric referral at present (my GP is writing to them today). She had a blood sample taken at 2.5 weeks as I mentioned the toxoplasmosis to the consultant at the Jaundice clinic at the time. Their response when I asked about the paediatric check was that the blood test result would go to my GP for the 6 week check up appointment and they seemed very unsure about any other checks (in fact they said they didn't know). This doesn't fit with the guidelines you've got in this article and I am concerned that the lack of general knowledge on this topic might lead to an unnecessary delay in diagnosing my daughter/getting the all clear.

      She has had all her normal newborn tests (NIPE, hearing, heel prick) and all are normal.

      Do you have any advice on whether the timescales I am experiencing are normal or not and if there are other tests/checks I should be pushing for?

      Many thanks.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Nov 2018 - 13:17

      Hi, thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear you are having an anxious wait for your babys blood result. If the result comes back as negative then your baby will not require any further tests. If it should be a positive result then your GP will need to refer to the paediatric team where your baby will receive treatment of the course of 1 year. Hopefully you will not have to wait much longer for the result. If you need any further support please do not hesitate to email us at [email protected] or call us on 0800 0147 800.
      Best Wishes - Tommy's Midwives

    • By Sylvia (not verified) on 27 Nov 2018 - 01:36

      When I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with my second child (1976), my first child was tested for routine eye screening at pediatricians office and showed a problem with her vision. Opthomologost found she had scar tissue on her retina from toxoplasmosis, so we had blood tests for me and the baby had blood tests showing some counts (not much was known about toxo then). Anyway, baby had no physical problems that were found...until she was about 23 years old...scar tissue on her retina from toxo! Was a surprise. I was told once I had the infection, I could not pass to second child. They are almost 4 years apart in age. Luckily both children have no other problems. First child is almost blind in one eye, only has peripheral vision in that eye. Was a very scary time when we found out at 7 1/2 months pregnant that second child could possibly have very bad physical disabilities. Didn’t know until she was 6 weeks old that she would be OK. Decided at that point not to have any more children for fear of the unknown. I hope there is much more information on this disease now. Thanks for listening.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Nov 2018 - 15:32

      Hi Sylvia
      Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, a lot more is known about it now.
      Many thanks. Tommy's Midwife

    • By Eloise (not verified) on 20 Nov 2018 - 13:39


      I have read several papers (papers published by the National Toxo Reference Lab in Palo Alto, CA, USA) according to which the Igm antibodies would appear “within a week or two” of infection but your article says they wouldnt appear for at least three weeks. I am anxious to get tested as soon as possible and this conflicting information is confusing me :( please help!!

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Nov 2018 - 11:05

      Hi Eloise, Thank you for your comment.

      Based on the evidence that is available, in the UK we recommend that Igm antibodies should take around 2-3 weeks to appears, however, this can be different for everyone. If 3 weeks is given from the point of exposure then a result would be more reliable then a result taken at 1 week because the antibodies may not have appeared at this point, giving the potential risk of a false negative. Hope this helps, Take Care Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Corina (not verified) on 17 Nov 2018 - 19:19

      Hi. I had a miscarriage in August , when I was 10 weeks pregnant and after that I found out that I have toxoplasmosis ( blood collection was a few days before miscarriage). IgG and IgM positive. After 3 months I did the test again: IgG>100, IgM strongly positive (I think it was around 6.6 ). I want to wait until January and start trying to get pregnant again. Does that seem a good idea? I understand that IgM might come back positive up to two years.
      Thank you.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Nov 2018 - 14:22

      Hi Corina, I believe that in most situations IGM can remain positive for several months after the infection has resolved. You may require more specific tests to be done so please speak to your GP first.

    • By ayesha (not verified) on 4 Feb 2019 - 14:45

      hi I too had a abortion two months back and after that I came to know that I have toxoplasmosis now am on antibiotics for one month my doctor advised to repeat the test after 3 months .is it safe to plan pregnancy after it get cured with out any issues with baby health

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Feb 2019 - 11:49

      Hi Ayesha,
      Once you have had the repeat blood test and your Dr confirms that they are happy with your blood results, then yes you can plan for a pregnancy safely.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Dee (not verified) on 17 Nov 2018 - 01:34



    • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Nov 2018 - 14:09

      Hi Dee, Lovely to hear that your baby is doing so well. Please don't be worried. My understanding is that your baby has been born with immunity to toxoplasmosis, (IGG represents immunity, whereas IGM indicates recent infection), but please chat with your doctor to be completely sure. Best wishes x

    • By Eva (not verified) on 9 Nov 2018 - 06:02

      Hi, Im on the process of IVF treatment my doctor order lab tests which toxoplasmosis IGG was high levels, im so worried that i won't be able to continue my treatment, is there anything that i can do or should i not continue with IVF treatment or what do I do with my cat if she is infected.?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Nov 2018 - 11:23

      It is important you have this discussion with your doctor who is treating you about the best option for you. Generally, if blood tests show that there is a recent or current infection, there is a risk that the baby will be infected. The obstetrician or doctor will make a recommendation about any further action that might be required. . The degree of risk and severity of damage depends on when you were infected.

      A positive result due to a current/recent infection
      If the test shows a current or recent infection the blood must be sent on from the local laboratory to the Toxoplasma Reference Laboratory, for confirmation and further testing.

      A small percentage of tests will appear positive when in reality a woman has never had the disease.

      If further tests show that you have a current or recent infection, it means you are suffering from an acute toxoplasma infection. Further action needs to be taken to assess the risk of passing the infection on to your baby.

      If you were infected shortly before conception
      Infection caught shortly before conception (within a few weeks before) carries a one percent risk or below of transmission to the baby, but there is a risk of miscarriage if the baby does become infected.

    • By Annie (not verified) on 5 Nov 2018 - 13:38

      Hi, I have only just found out that I am pregnant (8 weeks). Before I knew I ate a rare steak, I am so worried that I might have caught toxoplasmosis. What should I do?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Nov 2018 - 16:11

      Hi Annie
      Toxoplasmosis is not routinely tested for during pregnancy in the UK. You may however request a blood test from your GP as you feel you may have put yourself at risk in consuming the rare steak, and you are concerned.
      The blood test looks for antibodies – the body’s natural defences – to the infection. It may take three weeks for these antibodies to be present following an infection, so the blood test will only pick up an infection that you’ve had for at least three weeks. Depending on the type of antibodies found and whether levels are stable, rising or falling, it’s possible to determine when the infection took place.
      The results may come back in a week, or longer if they have been passed on to a Toxoplasma Reference Laboratory . Please read the full article above for full details about Toxoplasmosis and feel free to call us if you have any additional concerns
      All the best- Tommy's Midwife

    • By Melissa (not verified) on 29 Oct 2018 - 12:02

      I am 27 weeks pregnant and my indoor/outdoor cat accidentally scratched my lip yesterday and some of the blood got in my mouth. I’m going to call to get tested in a few weeks, but I’m feeling quite anxious. I was tested in the first few weeks of pregnancy and was negative, and I’ve had my cats for over 10 years so I’m hoping that the risk is minimal.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Nov 2018 - 15:07

      Hi Melissa, Thank you for your comment.

      It is understandable that you are feeling anxious but try not to worry unnecessarily. Toxoplasmosis is excreted in the faeces on the cat so if there was not faeces' on your cat at the time then the risk should be low. We would advise that if you are worried then going to the GP and getting a blood test for Toxo would be advisable, which you have already arranged. Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Maria (not verified) on 28 Oct 2018 - 22:08

      I was not aware that other animals also carried toxoplasmosis. I went to a pumpkin patch at a farm that had a petting zoo with older animals and sheep. I did not touch the animals or gates and stayed away from the sheep. There were no signs warning for pregnant women. My friend went in and touched as well as carried the animals. She washed her hands with water only as they had ran out of soap. Now I have been worried that I caught it from going into the petting zoo.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Nov 2018 - 13:11

      Hi Maria, Thank you for your comment.

      Farm animals may carry Toxoplasmosis but your are only at risk of this if you are around infected animals and it is lambing season. As you we not around any animals, or animals that had just been born or given birth then this risk of being exposed is very low. Petting zoo's have an obligation to keep the pubic safe so in lambing season the labouring sheep should be kept away from the public unless there are warnings for pregnant women to avoid certain areas. Hope this helps. Take Care Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 13 Oct 2018 - 17:06


      I am 32 weeks pregnant and toxoplasmosis is something I have had extreme anxiety about my whole pregnancy (I own a cat). I was previously tested for this at around 24 weeks pregnant and tested negative therefore I am not immune to it, however, have still been very anxious about toxoplasmosis since the test in case I catch it. What worried me even more was the fact that my Mam fed my cat some meat from a saveloy the other day (a cold one from a shop/counter, NO IDEA WHY!) and now I am panicking that this could contain toxoplasmosis which could then be passed on to my cat? I am freaking out and have severe anxiety when it comes to toxoplasmosis as it is.


    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Oct 2018 - 12:28

      I can understand your concerns but I wonder whether you should focus on relieving your anxiety by techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, exercise, yoga etc. If you have already had a toxoplasmosis screen at 24 weeks, this means that in the x number of years you have been alive , you have never caught this infection. despite the numerous times you must have been exposed to a risk factor. You can't catch the infection from stroking or owning a cat and as long as you wash your hands after cleaning litter trays or when gardening your risk is not increased.

    • By Hannah (not verified) on 10 Oct 2018 - 21:42

      Hi there, my husband and I have been on the waiting list for a kitten for some time now and a couple of weeks ago one came up for us which will be ready in a couple of weeks. However I found out a week ago that I'm pregnant and so have been reading a lot about toxoplasmosis. I don't want to do anything at all that puts risk to our baby but the kitten has been raised indoors, is a pedigree, will be an indoor cat with us (my husband will do the litter box) and will not be fed raw meat so I'm wondering how risky it is in that instance? The only thing was I read an American government site called CDC which said not to get a new cat in pregnancy. It feels like the right time for us to have a cat and I feel she will help a lot with minimising feelings of anxiety and loneliness in pregnancy (I'm living far away from my family and friends at the moment) but I really think we'll have to say no to her if she will actually pose a risk to my pregnancy. I should also say we had two family cats while I was growing up that I used to kiss and cuddle all the time (much to the annoyance of my parents!) so I wonder if I may already have had toxo. Any advice would be so welcome as it's stressing me out a lot! Thanks so much in advance.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Oct 2018 - 12:51

      Hi Hannah, Thank you for your comment.

      Toxoplasmosis can be contracted through contact with cat faeces, not from stroking a cat or having it as a pet. Cats can contract Toxo from eating birds then it is transferred to the gut of the cat and comes out in the faeces.
      This kitten has been bread very well from what you explain and as long as your husband cleans the litter tray and the kitten is up to date with an immunisation injections from the vet then you should be fine to get your kitten. Just maintain good hand hygiene at all times. If you feel that getting the kitten would cause anxiety about toxo then delay getting the kitten until after the baby is born, just have a think about it before making your decision.

      Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 8 Oct 2018 - 12:09

      Would someone be able to advise me whether I’d be considered at risk of toxoplasmosis from simply moving my cat’s litter box outside for my husband to clean? I washed my hands throughly with soap and water afterwards but didn’t wear a mask. Is there any chance I could have inhaled toxoplasmosis just by putting the box outside?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Oct 2018 - 14:01

      No , I think this is not increasing your risk. Please don't worry. x

    • By Chelsea (not verified) on 8 Oct 2018 - 03:07

      Hello. My cat is mainly indoor. But for the summer we put him outside during the night. From like 3-7am. He has eaten several mice. I cuddle and kiss him (not directly on the mouth) but on his kitty cheeks .. I scoop his litterbox but I’m not as worried about that as I wear gloves AND a mask. What I do worry about is how close I’ve come to his face and the couple of time he’s brushed his paw across my face/mouth since he walks thru his litter box.. when he touches my face or lips (quickly and always gently he is also declawed) I always wash the area with soap and water because clearly I’m a worry wart. You don’t think I could get a it from those two things do you?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Oct 2018 - 13:57

      The risks are very low, but if you want to be 100% sure, the only way is to do a test. Take care

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 2 Oct 2018 - 23:12

      I’m in my second trimester and one of my cats yesterday walked mud and dirt over a towel in our bathroom which I have been using for drying my face after cleansing. I dried my face on the towel without realising the cat had left muddy paw prints on it and I’m now concerned about having ingested soil and put myself at risk for toxoplasmosis (I’m not sure whether the mud had fully dried). Should I be concerned?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Oct 2018 - 12:56

      It doesn't sound as if you have put yourself at increased risk. Although you can never be completely sure, cats are in fact very clean animals and mud in itself isn't a risk. Also you are unlikely to have got the soil into your mouth or ingested it in any way. If you think that the cat may have had faeces on it's paws and you could have swallowed this, you could get a test in a few weeks time.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 8 Oct 2018 - 22:25

      Hi, thank you for your response. I’m fairly sure that it was mud and dirt rather than actual faeces on the cat’s paws. I was more worried that the cat could have walked soil containing toxoplasmosis onto the towel rather than directly walking in faeces. Should I still be concerned?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Oct 2018 - 12:34

      Hi there
      Soil does not contain toxoplasmosis - this can only be found in cat faeces. So if you are sure that it was soil and not faeces, then you are not at risk of contracting toxoplasmosis. If you are still worried and wish to have the blood test done privately anyway, then you should wait at least 2-3 weeks from possible contamination event until the test for the results to be accurate.
      All the best
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 1 Oct 2018 - 10:07

      Hi, I was cleaning my house and there was definitely mud and soil that got on my hands a few times as I was cleaning the floor. I washed my hands twice with soap and hot water and didn't notice any left on me. I still suck my thumb (I know...) and carried on doing this, made myself a sandwich too and ate - is there any risk or was washing my hands after soil contact enough to not need to worry?

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