#1 Ranked Children’s Hospital by U.S. News & World Report
MyPatients provides referring primary care providers with secure access to their patients’ information.
Boston Children's has launched the world's 1st program dedicated to offering hand transplants to children who qualify.
Innovation insider is a semi-monthly e-newsletter analyzes innovations at Boston Children’s, other academic medical centers and from industry.
Read the latest blog by a Boston Children's doctor, clinician or staff member.
There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
Learn more about our ranking as the top pediatric hospital here.
At Boston Children’s Hospital, we understand that you may have a lot of questions when your child is diagnosed with congenital toxoplasmosis, such as:
We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions here, and when you meet with our experts, we can explain your child’s condition and treatment options fully.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 million men, women and children in the United States have toxoplasmosis. Most people infected with toxoplasmosis have no symptoms (and don’t need any treatment). However, pregnant women should be especially careful about exposing themselves to the parasite because toxoplasmosis can be very serious in a newborn baby.
Fortunately, the risk of maternal transmission of the parasite to the fetus during the first trimester of pregnancy (when the baby is most vulnerable) is relatively low, at 15 to 20 percent. However, by the third trimester, a pregnant woman with toxoplasmosis has a 60 percent chance of infecting her child.
The toxoplasma gondii parasite can enter the body in a number of ways (most commonly, through the mouth). If you’re pregnant, be especially careful to avoid these situations:
Many (up to 90 percent of) babies born with congenital toxoplasmosis experience no immediate symptoms. However, one sign of infection is a premature birth or an abnormally low birth weight.
As an infected baby grows, more signs and symptoms can appear. These may include the following:
Toxoplasmosis can also cause some more serious problems, including the following:
If your child is treated early, there should be no serious consequences of toxoplasmosis. However, if treatment is delayed, your child may suffer some serious health problems as a result of the infection. For more information, see the Treatment and Care tab.
Many parents are concerned about toxoplasmosis and can have lots of questions about the condition and how it can affect their baby.
You may find it helpful to jot down questions as they arise—that way, when you talk to your doctor, you can be sure that all of your concerns are addressed.
Here are some questions to get you started:
Q: What is toxoplasmosis?
A: Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the parasite toxoplasma gondii and is usually acquired by the parasite getting into the body by the mouth (for instance, by eating undercooked meat).
Q: Why is toxoplasmosis a problem?
A: While most people infected with toxoplasmosis have no symptoms (and don’t need any treatment), pregnant women should be especially careful about exposing themselves to the parasite because toxoplasmosis can be very serious in a newborn baby.
Q: What can I do to prevent infection?
A: If you’re pregnant, be especially careful to avoid these situations:
Q: Our family has pet cats. Do we have to get rid of them to be safe from toxoplasmosis?
A: No.Although cats can transmit the toxoplasma gondii parasite to pregnant women through their feces (where infected parasite eggs can be shed), there is no demonstrated link between toxoplasmosis and simply owning a cat. Here’s why:
Cats themselves can only become infected with toxoplasma gondiiif they eat prey containing the parasite, or come into contact with infected soil. For these reasons, cats kept indoors are highly unlikely to become carriers of the parasite. In addition, only pregnant women are at elevated risk of toxoplasmosis through handling cat litter and/or feces. Other family members, including young children, do not face this elevated risk.
Many pregnant women (and their families) fear that they need to part with the family cat to be safe from toxoplasmosis—but that’s not the case at all. You can keep your cat while taking these steps to prevent toxoplasmosis infection:
Q: What are the chances that my baby will be infected if I am?
A: It depends on when you are infected.
Q: How is toxoplasmosis diagnosed?
A: A blood test before or during pregnancy can determine if you have been exposed to the toxoplasma gondii parasite.
Currently, physicians in the United States do not routinely screen pregnant women for toxoplasma gondii, so if you suspect you may have been exposed to the parasite, ask your doctor to perform a blood test.
Q: What symptoms might my baby have?
A: Many babies show no immediate signs of infection. However, as a baby grows, she may show more signs of infection, which may include the following:
There are also more serious symptoms; for more information on these, see the Symptoms [LINK] tab.
Q: What are our treatment options?
A: Here at Boston Children’s, physicians in our Division of Infectious Diseases treat congenital toxoplasmosis in infants.
Q: What is my child’s long-term outlook?
A: If your child is treated early, there should be no serious consequences of toxoplasmosis. However, if treatment is delayed, your child may suffer some serious health problems as a result of the infection.
Q: What makes Boston Children’s different?
A: Our physicians are expert, compassionate and committed to focusing on the whole child, not just his condition—that’s one reason we’re frequently ranked as a top pediatric hospital in the United States.
And at Boston Children’s, we consider you and your child integral parts of the care team and not simply recipients of care. You and your care team will work together to customize a plan of care for your child.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”