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Open Access Correspondence

“Blind periods” in screening for toxoplasmosis in pregnancy in Austria – a debate

Ulrich Sagel123, Alexander Krämer1 and Rafael T Mikolajczyk14*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health Medicine, School of Public Health, University of Bielefeld, P.O. Box 10 01 31, Bielefeld, D-33501, Germany

2 Analyse BioLab GmbH, Eisenhandstr 4-6, Linz, A-4020, Austria

3 Institute of Hygiene and Mikrobiology, Lower Austria State Hospital of St. Pölten-Lilienfeld, Probst-Führer-Str. 4, St. Pölten, A-3100, Austria

4 Bremen Institute for Prevention Research and Social Medicine, Achterstr 30, Bremen, D-28359, Germany

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2012, 12:118  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-118

Published: 16 May 2012

Abstract

Recent studies from Austria, France and Italy have shown that there is a poor adherence to the screening scheme for maternal Toxoplasma infections in pregnancy demonstrated by the fact that many recommended examinations are missed. This leads to undetected infections and limits our knowledge of incidence of the disease. We discuss the negative consequences of this situation on research on treatment effectiveness and the outcomes of congenital toxoplasmosis. The responsible public health institutions should assume responsibility for appropriate surveillance of the screening programme and take measures to improve screening adherence during pregnancy. Screening should start as early as possible in pregnancy and the latest test should be done at delivery. Screening schedule should allow distinguishing infections from the first, second and third trimester of pregnancy, as the risk of materno-foetal transmission and outcomes in case of foetal infections varies by time.