Congenital infections

Safeguarding the gift of a healthy new life for families everywhere

Prenatal screening programs are critically important to prevent treat and manage congenital infections in newborns.

Congenital infections are vertically transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding and include diseases such as toxoplasmosis, and others (such as HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis, chagas), rubella, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus (TORCH).

These infections are major contributors of perinata morbidity and mortalita, accounting for up to 50% of stillbirths in low and middle income countries, and 10-25% in high income countries.1  Access to prenatal screening programs for congenital infections can prevent mother to fetus transmission, and guide adequate and timely treatment and/or counseling.

Women can be infected with several pathogens, that can be transmitted to their fetuses during pregnancy. Amongst others women can be infected via:

Since the early 2000s, the incidence of congenital CMV, HSV and varicella-zoster virus (VZV) diagnosed in neonates has increased by about 300%.3 In that time, rubella infections decreased due to the success of the measles–mumps–rubella (MMR) vaccine.3

Screening is a very important strategy to prevent and reduce the burden of congenital infections, in particular for diseases where treatments or vaccinations are not available.

pregnant woman is inspected with stethoscope
The importance of equipping laboratories for increases in congenital testing

From initial screening to post-natal follow-up, laboratories serve as a lifeline for those suspected of infection.

The right information at the right time may help to improve a baby’s outcome by enabling earlier initiation of treatment.

As screening and testing strategies become more standardized globally laboratories must be equipped to meet local demands, requiring:

Reliable results

  • Sensitive and specific assays help avoid misdiagnosis and retesting
  • Automated and standardized processes minimize human error

Easy adoption

  • Familiar workflows on existing platforms to simplify training
  • Broad test menus increase consolidation and reduce the need to send out tests

Partnership and trust

  • Continued assay development to meet changing demands
  • Access to expert advice to address issues or gaps in knowledge
Pregnant woman getting a scan
Advancing women’s health with robust screening solutions

From strategic assay development and flexible system concepts to an established global infrastructure and efficient logistics, Roche is helping to ensure the delivery of timely accurate results.

Roche’s comprehensive assay offering contains a growing number of infectious disease assays in addition to the TORCH panel (toxoplasmosis, rubella, CMV, HSV) which includes Toxo IgG Avidity and CMV IgG Avditiy assays, essential to date infections. As country-wide screening programs roll out, Roche’s fully automated platforms will help laboratories better manage the growing demand for testing.

These advancements are helping healthcare professionals address women's health challenges giving them the ability to better provide care and peace of mind to patients when welcoming a new life into the world.

Roche. Doing now what patients need next.

Additional reading

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CMV NAT testing

In vitro nucleic acid amplification test for the quantitation of Cytomegalovirus virus (CMV) DNA in human EDTA plasma.

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HSV NAT testing

In vitro diagnostic test for the direct detection and typing of Herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) DNA.

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HSV-1 antibody test

Immunoassay for the qualitative determination of IgG-antibodies to Herpes Simplex Virus type 1.

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HSV-2 antibody test

Immunoassay for the qualitative determination of IgG-antibodies to Herpes Simplex Virus type 2.

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Rubella lgM

Immunoassay for the quantitative determination of IgG antibodies against rubella virus.

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Rubella lgG

Immunoassay for the qualitative determination of IgM antibodies against rubella virus.

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CMV antibody test

Complete panel of immunoassays for the determination of IgM and IgG antibodies against CMV, including IgG avidity.

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Toxo lgM

Immunoassay for the qualitative determination of IgM antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii.

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Toxo lgG

Immunoassay for the quantitative determination of IgG antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii.

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Toxo IgG avidity 

Immunoassay for the qualitative determination of T. gondii IgG avidity.

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Immunoassay for the qualitative determination of antibodies to Trypanosoma cruzi (the causative agent of Chagas disease).

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  1. Goldenberg RL, McClure EM, Saleem S, Reddy UM. Infection-related stillbirths. Lancet. 2010;375(9724):1482-90.
  2. Fenizia C, Biasin M, Cetin I, et al. Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 vertical transmission during pregnancy. Nat Commun. 2020;11:5128. 
  3. Kadambari S, Pollard AJ, Goldacre MJ, Goldacre R. Congenital viral infections in England over five decades: a population-based observational study. Lancet Infect Dis. 2020;20(2):220-229.