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Toxoplasma infection in pregnancy is usually treated with long-term administration of the macrolide spiramycin to prevent fetal malformations. We had empirically observed that treated patients seldom developed pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), a common and severe disorder of pregnancy whose aetiology and pathogenesis are still debated. Some clinical and experimental data suggest that infection could play a role in its development.
To test this hypothesis, we studied a cohort of 417 pregnant women treated with spiramycin because of seroconversion for Toxoplasma gondii and 353 low-risk women who did not take any antibiotic during pregnancy. PIH was defined as blood pressure > 140/90 mmHg on two or more occasions, occurring after 20 weeks of gestational age.
Seventeen (5.2%) women in the control group developed PIH compared with two (0.5%) in the case group. The odds of developing the disease were significantly lower in the treated subjects (odds ratio = 0.092, 95% confidence interval 0.021, 0.399; P < 0.001).
Our results suggest that antibiotic treatment during pregnancy can reduce the incidence of PIH, thus opening new perspectives in its prevention and therapy.