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Study finds U.S. toxoplasmosis screening lacking

A new study by Stanford researchers found that there is a serious lack of testing for toxoplasmosis infections in the United States, which causes more infections and complications to occur than in other parts of the world, such as Europe, where screening is more prevalent.

Toxoplasmosis infections occur when a pregnant mother gets the parasite Toxoplasma gondii and passes it on to her unborn child. Though the mother may not even feel symptoms, severe complications can arise in the baby including calcium deposits in the brain and permanent visual impairment.

The study found that 84 percent of infants in the United States who have the infection develop serious symptoms; however, the rate is drastically lower in parts of Europe. In France, for example, only 17 percent of affected children have serious symptoms.

The study claims this is partially due to routine screening that occurs in many parts of Europe but not in the United States. Awareness campaigns that teach mothers to stay away from risky activities, as well as drugs that hinder transmissions between the mother and the fetus, could also be effective ways to lower the severity of the infection.

“There is a tragedy out there that can be prevented through thoughtful, low-cost

serological screening of one of our most vulnerable populations-the mother-baby pair,” said the author of the study, Dr. Jose Montoya, in a press release.

Brendan O’Byrne

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