Author(s): elNawawy A, Soliman AT, Karim MA, Demian S
To determine the seroprevalence of maternal and neonatal toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibodies and hepatitis-B (HB) antigenaemia in a rural Egyptian area, a prospective serological study was done on a randomly selected sample of pregnant women (n = 150) and their newborn infants (n = 150). Sera were collected from the mothers during the first antenatal visit, and at the time of delivery and cord blood specimens (paired samples) taken from their infants to be tested for toxoplasma-IgG and IgM antibodies, CMV-IgG and IgM antibodies surface antigen (HBsAg) and HBe antigen (HBeAg). Maternal infection was indicated in cases where specific IgM antibody was present or where an initial maternal specimen gave negative result for IgG antibody, but the second blood specimen gave positive result. Specific IgM antibody in a cord blood specimen indicated fetal infection. Out of the 150 pregnant women, 64 (43 percent) were toxoplasma immune at their first antenatal visit and their newborns were toxoplasma IgG positive. Toxoplasma specific IgM antibody was detected in only three mothers at the time of deliver. The rate of maternal infection in susceptible pregnancies was 4 percent and the maternal-fetal transmission rate was estimated to be 33 percent, as only one newborn infant had toxoplasma-IgM antibody at birth. This denoted a prevalence of congenital toxoplasma infection = < 1.0 percent to non-immune mothers. There were no clinical features of congenital infection in the infant with toxoplasma-IgM antibody, but he will require long-term follow-up. All the mothers infected during pregnancy had known risk factors for toxoplasma infection. One-hundred-and-forty-three (96 percent) of the pregnant women were CMV-IgG seropositive at their first antenatal visit. At the time of delivery 143 (96 percent) of the mothers and their newborn infants were CMV-IgG seropositive. None of the mothers or their infants was CMV-IgM seropositive. HBsAg was detected in 8 per cent of pregnant mothers (n = 12) and in two (17 percent) of their newborn infants. None of the mothers was HBeAg positive. In conclusion, the prevalence of toxoplasma infection during pregnancy and its transplacental transmission rate in a rural Egyptian area are high compared to other countries. A toxoplasmosis antenatal screening and public education programmes for pregnant mothers is justifiable in rural Egypt. However, it appears that an antenatal screening programme for CMV is, at present, not warranted.