Background: In Vietnam, few studies have determined the epidemiological status of toxoplasmosis in pregnant women and no routine prenatal screening is in place. This study was conducted to evaluate the seroprevalence of this zoonotic parasitic infection in pregnant women in Northern Vietnam and to assess the association with awareness, risk factors and congenital toxoplasmosis.
Methods: Approximately 800 pregnant women were included in the study from two hospitals, one in Hanoi and one in Thai Binh province, which is known to have a dense cat population. Serological immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin M (IgM) detection was performed to estimate the seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis and sero-incidence of maternal and congenital toxoplasmosis. In addition, a survey was conducted about awareness, clinical history, presentation of signs and symptoms relating to toxoplasmosis and to detect biologically plausible and socio-demographic risk factors associated with toxoplasmosis. Associations with seroprevalence were assessed using univariable and multivariable analysis.
Results: The mean IgG seroprevalence after the full diagnostic process was 4.5% (95% confidence interval(CI): 2.7-7.0) and 5.8% (95% CI: 3.7-8.6) in Hanoi and Thai Binh hospital, respectively, and included one seroconversion diagnosed in Thai Binh hospital. Only 2.0% of the pregnant women in Hanoi hospital and 3.3% in Thai Binh hospital had heard about toxoplasmosis before this study.
Conclusion: Since the percentage of seronegative, and thus susceptible, pregnant women was high and the awareness was low, we suggest to distribute information about toxoplasmosis and its prevention among women of child bearing age. Furthermore, future studies are recommended to investigate why such a low seroprevalence was seen in pregnant women in Northern Vietnam compared to other countries in South East Asia and globally.
Keywords: Congenital toxoplasmosis; Prevention; Risk factors; Seroprevalence; Toxoplasmosis during pregnancy; Vietnam.