ToRCH is the acronym for several pathogens associated with pregnancy complications and sequelae in the unborn or newborn child. Particularly primary infections during pregnancy are associated with increased risk. Seroprevalence data of ToRCH infections are important, especially in countries with weak disease surveillance systems, to estimate immunity and vaccination levels, as well as exposure rates and thus the risk of infection during pregnancy. A systematic literature search spanning a 30-year time period was conducted to identify serosurveys on ToRCH pathogens in Southeast Asia. The 96 identified studies showed that some pathogens were well studied, while only limited data were available for others. Studies from the better-developed countries of the region were more abundant. Moreover, seroprevalence data were often limited to a certain geographical region within the country or to certain cohorts, there was an evident lack of recent serosurveys, and the study quality was often not adequate. Well-designed and area-wide serosurveys of ToRCH pathogens are clearly warranted. If combined with risk factor analysis, these studies may guide the development and implementation of effective measures for infection prevention, especially during pregnancy. In addition, educational programs for health care workers and for pregnant women during antenatal care are urgently needed.
Keywords: Southeast Asia; ToRCH; infection; pregnancy.