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Congenital infections

Congenital infections may account for up to half of all perinatal deaths globally.1


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Several pathogens can be vertically transmitted during pregnancy and have detrimental effects on the fetus and/or newborn.

They are usually described under the acronym TORCH comprising toxoplasmosis, others (e.g. syphilis), rubella, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Nowadays, the "others" category has rapidly expanded to include several viruses known to cause neonatal disease such as viral hepatitis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), parvovirus B19, varicella-zoster virus (VZV), enteroviruses, adenoviruses, West Nile, measles, and Zika virus.2


Early testing, vaccination and appropriate treatment could help prevent many congenital infections.3,4


Diagnostic screening is now widely requested by clinicians monitoring infants and pregnant women for congenital, perinatal and neonatal infections. The patient history, risk factors and local regulations guide the screening procedure. For most pathogens the initial screening test is based on the detection of specific antibodies or antigens, and it is done in the first trimester. The goals of congenital testing are to determine the mother’s immune status and to help differentiate between acute and past infection in pregnancy. Pre-conception and antenatal screening play an important role in the prevention of vertically transmitted infections.3


Roche offers a comprehensive menu for the serological diagnosis of congenital infections to help minimize the risks for the fetus and/or newborn. ​​​​​​​

  1. Neu N. et al. (2015). Clin Perinatol 42, 77–103
  2. Marino T. (2017). Medscape article available from: [Accessed February 2019]
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 10 Tips for Preventing Infections Before and During Pregnancy. CDC 2019. Last access August 2019 
  4. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Antenatal screening approaches effective in preventing mother-child-transmission of HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis and rubella in vulnerable populations. Stockholm: ECDC; 2017.

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