What it means and what information this test can provide are just some of the questions we asked Dr. Andreas Vythoulkas, specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, with superspecialization in infertility.
The TORCH test is, above all, recommended in the diagnosis of certain infections that can influence the development of the fetus during the 9 months of pregnancy and is a blood test aimed at the titer of IgG and IgM antibodies, specific to some infectious diseases.
TORCH is, in fact, Dr. Vythoulkas told us, an acronym resulting from joining the initials of the five groups of infections that can be detected: T= toxoplasma gondii, O=other viruses, R= Rubella, C= cytomegalovirus, H = herpes simplex virus, infections that are easily transmitted from mother to fetus.
T – Toxoplasmosis is common, affects over 50% of the world’s population, and is caused by a parasite. The main culprit for the transmission of this parasite to humans is the cat. The woman can become infected by consuming raw or undercooked meat that contains cysts or unpasteurized milk, etc. The infection from the mother reaches the fetus very easily, through the placenta, Dr. Vythoulkas also told us. But what is more important is that this virus can cause severe abnormalities in the eyes, brain, lungs and heart of the fetus.
O – Other viruses. Antibody testing for syphilis, hepatitis B, Epstein-Barr virus, and enterovirus infection is included in the TORCH test.
A – Rubella is an infection more common in the spring and can be transmitted by sneezing or coughing. During pregnancy, the virus can easily pass to the fetus and cause malformations in the eyes, hearing, cardiorespiratory or nervous system.
The major risk is at the beginning of the pregnancy, but decreases as the pregnancy progresses and the fetus has already formed organs. Fortunately, rubella is a once-in-a-lifetime disease, and the body develops immunity, continued Dr. Vythoulkas.
C – Cytomegalovirus is a virus from the group of herpes viruses. The infection in the mother is transmitted sexually, through blood transfusions or can be produced by the reactivation of a latent infection.
Often without symptoms outside of pregnancy, during the nine months it can produce serious fetal anomalies, but also in pregnancy stopped in progress or spontaneous abortion if the infection occurred in the first trimester of pregnancy.
H – Herpex simplex is a virus from the wide group of DNA viruses that, if it appears during pregnancy, can have negative effects on the mother, but especially on the fetus – premature birth, rare congenital malformations, especially in the central nervous system. Pregnant women can contact this virus through sexual contact and pass it on to the fetus.
Preferably, Dr. Vythoulkas continued, this TORCH test is performed before the pregnancy occurs, but if it is not a planned pregnancy, this test can also be done in the first weeks of pregnancy. If the test is done before pregnancy occurs and comes out positive, toxoplasmosis and syphilis can be treated, and rubella, chicken pox or shingles can be prevented by vaccination.
If the test comes out positive and the pregnancy already exists, the testing is done in the first weeks, and the infections can be treated or kept under close medical control, so that the life of the fetus is not endangered. Only in serious cases is therapeutic abortion recommended.
Dr. Andreas Vythoulkas, obstetrics-gynecology specialist, specialization in Infertility, www.vythoukas.ro