Mumbai, India (PressExposure) July 22, 2011 -- Mumbai-based Lifecare Medical Centre, a chain of diagnostic centres providing laboratory, imaging and other diagnostic facilities under one roof, has recently introduced a crucial blood test to screen pregnant women and newborns for antibodies to infectious diseases. Known as the 'TORCH Panel test' or TORCH test, the blood tests that make up the panel are for Toxoplasmosis, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus (CMV), and Herpes simplex virus (HSV).
The test, which Lifecare Medical Centre offers at Rs 2900, determine if the person has had a recent infection, a past infection, or has never been exposed. Elaborating on the significance of the test, Dr Vinay Goel, Promoter Director & Chairman, Lifecare Medical Centre, says, "These infections can be serious if they occur during pregnancy because they can cross the placenta from the mother to the developing foetus, risking miscarriage, still birth, or a child with congenital defects."
The test is performed before or as soon as pregnancy is diagnosed to determine the mother's history of exposure to these organisms. Dr Goel further informs that Rubella infection during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy poses major risks for the unborn baby. It is difficult for a physician to tell if a person has rubella by their clinical appearance since other infections may look the same. Similarly, Toxoplasma or CMV may have flu-like symptoms that are not easily differentiated from other illnesses. "Antibody testing will help the physician diagnose an infection that may be harmful to the unborn baby," he adds.
The test may also be ordered on the newborn when the infant shows any signs suggestive of these infections, such as exceptionally small size relative to the gestational age, deafness, mental retardation, seizures, heart defects, cataracts, enlarged liver or spleen, low platelet level, or jaundice.
He suggests that even people having pets as well as people flying to the UK and the US must also undergo this test.
Results are usually given as positive or negative, indicating the presence or absence of IgG and IgM antibodies for each of the infectious agents. Presence of IgM antibodies in the newborn indicates high likelihood of infection with that organism. IgM antibodies produced in the mother cannot cross the placenta, so presence of this type of antibody strongly suggests an active infection in the infant. Presence of IgG and absence of IgM antibody in the infant may reflect passive transfer of maternal antibody to the baby and does not indicate active infection in the baby.
Likewise, the presence of IgM antibody in the pregnant woman suggests a new infection with the virus or parasite. Further testing must be done to confirm these results since IgM antibody may be present for other reasons. IgG antibody in the pregnant woman may be a sign of past infection with one of these infectious agents or vaccinations. "By testing a second blood sample drawn two weeks later, the level of antibody can be compared. If the second blood draw shows an increase in IgG antibody, it may indicate a recent infection with the infectious agent," adds Dr Goel.
If there is no antibody, you can take the antidote injection for it, so that you don't get infected by any of these infections in the future," he says.