§ Ms Jowell
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to publish information from the Public Health Laboratory Service showing the number with toxoplasmosis in pregnancy; and if she will give the results why testing for toxoplasmosis is not a standard procedure in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Sackville
The Public Health Laboratory Service communicable disease surveillance centre is currently reviewing laboratory reports of human toxoplasma infections in England and Wales from 1981 to 1992. Submission for scientific publication of this analysis is expected later this year. This review will contain information on laboratory reported human infections in pregnant women, although the incidence of toxoplasmosis in pregnant women is unknown due to unrecognised or undiagnosed asymptomatic infections or individuals with non-specific symptoms that may go undetected.
Screening for toxoplasmosis in pregnancy is not a standard procedure in the United Kingdom because the significance of the test, the natural history of the disease and the efficacy of the treatment are all surrounded by uncertainty. For any screening programme, the benefits conferred by screening must clearly outweigh the risks.