Congenital Toxoplasmosis | Diagnosis & Treatments

How do we diagnose congenital toxoplasmosis?

The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis.

A blood test before or during pregnancy can determine if you have been exposed to the toxoplasma gondii parasite.

  • If you are infected, another type of test can determine whether your baby is infected.
  • In addition, fetal ultrasounds can determine if your baby's organs are damaged.

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.

After we complete all necessary tests, Boston Children’s Hospital’s experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned. Then we will meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.

How do we treat congenital toxoplasmosis?

If your child has been diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, you may be confused, frightened and overwhelmed. But you can rest assured that, at Boston Children's Hospital, your child is in good hands.

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.

It's important to know the following about toxoplasmosis:

  • If detected early, antiparasitic treatments can eliminate toxoplasmosis before the parasite harms the fetus.
  • Boston Children's treats babies born with congenital toxoplasmosis with anti-toxoplasmosis medications, usually for 1 year after birth.
  • We typically use pyrimethamine or sulfadiazine because studies have shown that babies treated with these medications typically have fewer complications from the infection.
  • One of our experts will determine which combination of medications is best suited for your baby.

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.

Coping and support

It's essential to remember that, while hearing that your child is infected with toxoplasmosis can feel very isolating, many children and their families have been down this path before. We've helped them, and we can help you, too.

There are lots of resources available for your family—within Boston Children's, in the outside community and online. These include:

Patient education: From the very first visit, our nurses will be on hand to walk you through your child's treatment and help answer any questions you may have. And they'll also reach out to you by phone, continuing the care and support you received while at Boston Children's.

Parent to parent: Want to talk with someone whose baby has been treated for toxoplasmosis? We can put you in touch with other families who have been through similar experiences and can share their experience.

Faith-based support: If you are in need of spiritual support, we'll help connect you with the Boston Children's Department of Spiritual Care (chaplaincy). Our program includes nearly a dozen clergy representing Episcopal, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Unitarian and United Church of Christ traditions who will listen to you, pray with you and help you observe your own faith practices during the time you and your child are in the hospital.

Social work and mental health professionals: Our social workers and mental health clinicians have helped many other families in your situation. We can offer counseling and assistance with issues such as coping with your child's diagnosis, stresses relating to coping with illness and dealing with financial difficulties.

On our patient resources site, you can read all you need to know about: