Antibiotics for toxoplasmosis during pregnancy and after birth

Toxoplasmosis infection during pregnancy can lead to eye and brain damage in a growing baby (fetus) or infant. Antibiotic therapy can prevent or reduce these birth defects.

Initial treatment after a mother is infected

When a pregnant woman has a toxoplasmosis infection, she is treated with an antibiotic. This lowers the chances that her fetus will become infected.

If you are diagnosed with toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, you will be given spiramycin.1 Spiramycin collects in the placenta, the site where the Toxoplasma gondii parasites travel to the fetus.

Treatment for a fetus

If an amniocentesis shows that a fetus is infected, giving the mother a combination of antibiotics lowers the risk of birth defects and may cure the infection.2 Sulfadiazine plus pyrimethamine (an antibiotic commonly used for malaria) is sometimes used with the antibiotic spiramycin.1, 3

Treatment for a newborn

A newborn who has toxoplasmosis needs a year of antibiotics to lower the risk of eye and brain damage. This treatment is given to the newborn even if the mother was treated during pregnancy.

Citations

  1. Montoya JG, et al. (2005). Toxoplasma gondii section of Infectious diseases and their etiologic agents. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, pp. 3170–3198. Philadelphia: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.
  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2000). Perinatal viral and parasitic infections. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 20. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 96(3): 1–13.
  3. Savoia MC (2004). Toxoplasmosis section of Bacterial, fungal, and parasitic disease. In GN Burrow et al., eds., Medical Complications During Pregnancy, 6th ed., pp. 330–332. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders.

Last Updated: June 18, 2009

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