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Parasitic Infections in Pregnancy

Dotters-Katz, Sarah MD*; Kuller, Jeffrey MD; Heine, R. Phillips MD

Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey: August 2011 - Volume 66 - Issue 8 - p 515-525
doi: 10.1097/OGX.0b013e3182385fde

Parasitic infections affect tens of millions of pregnant women worldwide. These infections lead directly and indirectly to a spectrum of adverse maternal and fetal/placental effects. With the increase in global travel, healthcare providers will care for women who have recently moved from or traveled to areas where these infections are endemic. We reviewed the literature, assessing case reports, case series, and prospective and retrospective trials, to provide guidelines for management of common parasitic infections in pregnancy. Parasitic infections tend to preferentially affect 1 part of the maternal-fetal unit. Thus, we categorize parasitic infections into those that preferentially cause harm to the mother, preferentially affect the fetus, and preferentially affect the placenta.

Target Audience: Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Family Physicians, and Nurse Midwives.

Learning Objectives: After completing this CME activity, physicians should be better able to differentiate immune modulators associated with parasitic infection and their relationship to adverse pregnancy outcomes; assess the specific effects of certain parasitic infections on the gravid female, her placenta, and her fetus; and in addition, design a treatment regimen for pregnant women presenting with a parasitic infection.

*Resident, †Professor, ‡Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC

Chief Editor's Note: This article is part of a series of continuing education activities in this Journal through which a total of 36 AMA/PRA category 1 credits™ can be earned in 2011. Instructions for how CME credits can be earned appear on the last page of the Table of Contents.

The authors, faculty and staff in a position to control the content of this CME activity and their spouses/life partners (if any) have disclosed that they have no financial relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial organizations pertaining to this educational activity.

Correspondence requests to: Sarah Dotters-Katz, MD, Department of Ob/Gyn, Duke University Hospital, 2608 Erwin Rd, Ste 200, Durham, NC 27705. Email:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.