Font Size
A
A
A

Toxoplasmosis Test for Fetus


Topic Overview

When a pregnant woman has toxoplasmosis, a PCR test on amniotic fluid is used to learn whether her fetus is also infected.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a method of duplicating DNA strands from a tiny sample of blood, hair, or tissue. PCR is used to identify infectious diseases, genetic conditions, and genetic links between people.

PCR is preferred over a fetal blood test for antibodies because:1

  • Collecting amniotic fluid through amniocentesis is considered safer than fetal blood sampling.
  • PCR is better than antibody testing to detect toxoplasmosis.
  • PCR can be done earlier in a pregnancy than a blood test for antibodies. Because first- and second-trimester fetal infection carry the highest risk of birth defects and intellectual disability, earlier test results are important to parents who are considering ending such a pregnancy.

In rare cases, PCR produces false-positive or false-negative test results. Follow-up testing and fetal ultrasound monitoring for hydrocephalus can help confirm PCR test results.

PCR is seldom used to diagnose toxoplasmosis in adults. Antibody testing of a blood sample is easier and more widely available.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Davies JK, Gibbs RS (2008). Obstetric and perinatal infections. In RS Gibbs et al., eds., Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 340–364. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last RevisedJune 2, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.



NIH talks about Ebola on WebMD


Medical Dictionary