Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether demographic characteristics, history of exposure to recognized transmission vehicles, or illness that was compatible with acute toxoplasmosis during gestation identified most mothers of infants with congenital toxoplasmosis.
Study design: Mothers of 131 infants and children who were referred to a national study of treatment for congenital toxoplasmosis were characterized demographically and questioned concerning exposure to recognized risk factors or illness.
Results: No broad demographic features identified populations that were at risk. Only 48% of mothers recognized epidemiologic risk factors (direct or indirect exposure to raw/undercooked meat or to cat excrement) or gestational illnesses that were compatible with acute acquired toxoplasmosis during pregnancy.
Conclusion: Maternal risk factors or compatible illnesses were recognized in retrospect by fewer than one half of North American mothers of infants with toxoplasmosis. Educational programs might have prevented acquisition of Toxoplasma gondii by those mothers who had clear exposure risks. However, only systematic serologic screening of all pregnant women at prenatal visits or of all newborn infants at birth would prevent or detect a higher proportion of these congenital infections.