Background: In Vietnam, no systematic prenatal toxoplasmosis screening is in place, and only few studies have assessed the prevalence and importance of this zoonotic parasite infection. In addition, no studies have been conducted to assess the risk factors associated with toxoplasmosis. This study protocol was developed to determine the seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis in pregnant women in Hanoi and Thai Binh, Northern Vietnam, and to evaluate the association with risk factors and congenital toxoplasmosis. The protocol was developed in a way that it could potentially evolve into a countrywide prenatal diagnosis and prevention program, with the main focus on primary prevention.
Methods: The collaborating gynaecologists will invite eligible pregnant women attending antenatal care for the first time to participate in the study. At first consult, information about toxoplasmosis and its prevention will be provided. All participants will be asked to fill in a questionnaire, which is designed to analyse socio-demographic and biologically plausible risk factors associated with toxoplasmosis, and blood samples will be collected to determine the seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis in pregnant women. In case there is suspicion of a primary infection during pregnancy, the concerned women will be followed-up by the gynaecologists according to a predefined protocol. Every participant will be informed on her serological status, risk factors and prevention measures and is offered appropriate medical information and medical follow-up if required.
Discussion: The hypothesis is that congenital toxoplasmosis is an important but currently under-diagnosed public health problem in Vietnam. This study can strengthen sustainable control of toxoplasmosis in Vietnam, provide a protocol for prenatal diagnosis, boost overall awareness, improve the knowledge about toxoplasmosis prevention and can be essential for evidence-based health policy.
Keywords: Congenital toxoplasmosis; Prenatal diagnostics; Prevention; Serology; Toxoplasmosis during pregnancy; Vietnam.