Women and TORCH Infections
What Causes These In Utero TORCH Infections?
A fetus can contract a TORCH infection in utero when the mother is infected and it is carried through her bloodstream to the baby.
The developing fetus is especially vulnerable to illness because its immune system is not yet strong enough to permanently fight off infection.
Since a baby in utero cannot completely get rid of an infection, the disease remains in its body and can prevent the child's vulnerable organs from developing correctly.1
Risk Factors for Congenital Infectious Diseases
Syphilis is one of a number of infectious diseases that can lead to pregnancy complications and cause birth defects in the developing fetus. The impact of the various infectious diseases that can cause complications can range from miscarriage or premature birth to congenital defects including mental disability, blindness, liver, kidney, and cardiovascular disease, and even infant or childhood mortality.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a double-stranded DNA herpes virus and represents the most common congenital viral infection. The CMV seropositivity rate increases with age. Geographic location, socioeconomic class, and work exposure are other factors that influence the risk of infection. CMV infection requires intimate contact through saliva, urine, and/or other body fluids. Possible routes of transmission include sexual contact, organ transplantation, transplacental transmission, transmission via breast milk, and blood transfusion (rare).2
For most TORCH organisms, the initial screening test is based on detection of antibodies to the organism. In general, TORCH infections pose a greater risk to the fetus and neonate if the mother is actively infected during pregnancy. Primary infections (new infections acquired during pregnancy) are generally more damaging than secondary or reactivated infections.
1. Website [Internet]. Available from: http://www.childrenshospital.org/health-topics/conditions/torch
2. Website [Internet]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Cytomegalovirus/