Women and TORCH Infections

Women and TORCH Infections
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Generally, patient history and risk factors guide prenatal and perinatal maternal testing for TORCH organisms. These tests are performed in the first trimester of pregnancy, and neonates may also be tested for specific TORCH organisms based on clinical history.1,2 For most TORCH organisms, the initial screening test is based on detection of antibodies to the organism.


  • Screening for common infectious agents utilizing the TORCH panel may help to prevent many of the potential birth defects, as some of the TORCH infections can be effectively treated if the mother is diagnosed early in her pregnancy.3
  • Testing for TORCH organisms can identify fetuses and neonates who are at significant risk. Serologic-based TORCH assays can identify infection and facilitate appropriate care, thereby effectively reducing the risk of birth defects and fetal demise.
  • Prevention: Some of the vertically transmitted infections, such as toxoplasmosis and syphilis, can be effectively treated with antibiotics if the mother is diagnosed early in her pregnancy. Rubella and varicella-zoster can be prevented by vaccinating the mother prior to pregnancy. If the mother has active herpes simplex, delivery by Caesarean section can prevent the newborn from contact, and consequent infection, with this virus. Steps to prevent CMV infection include avoiding an infected child’s urine or saliva and frequent hand washing when feeding and caring for children.4,5

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1. Mendelson E, et al. Reprod Toxicol. 2006;2:350-82.
2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Perinatal viral and parasitic infections. ACOG Practice Bulletin 20. 20th ed. Washington, DC; 2000.
3. Advancing MDGs 4, 5 and 6: impact of congenital syphilis elimination; WHO/RHR/HRP/10.01  
4. Website [Internet]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertically_transmitted_infection
5. Website [Internet]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/cmv/prevention.html