TORCH Infection

The board-certified, fellowship-trained pediatric infectious disease specialists with Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, have the training and experience to evaluate and treat TORCH infections in children. A baby contracts a TORCH infection in the womb when the parent passes an infectious disease to the baby via their bloodstream.

What Is TORCH Infection?

TORCH is an acronym for a group of diseases that cause congenital infections when a fetus is exposed to disease in the womb. Developing fetuses are especially vulnerable to TORCH infections because their immune systems are not developed enough to fight off the infection permanently. The infection remains and can prevent a child’s organs from developing as they should. TORCH stands for:

  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Other
  • Rubella
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV)

The diseases that make up the term “other” include:

  • Syphilis
  • Varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox)
  • Fifth disease (parvovirus B19)
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Additionally, other congenital infections can affect babies, including:

  • Chagas disease
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • Enterovirus
  • Lyme disease
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV)
  • Malaria
  • Serious bacterial infection or viral infection in the mother, including seasonal influenza
  • Zika virus

TORCH infections, as well as other congenital infections, can go unrecognized if the mother has no symptoms and thus the child is not tested. A pregnant parent may have a viral illness, such as flu, and may not directly pass it to the child. During pregnancy, should the parent have an illness and fever, the baby may need special evaluation before and after delivery.

TORCH Infection Symptoms

Symptoms of TORCH will depend on the infection or disease a child is exposed to in the womb. Generally, symptoms may include:

  • Anemia
  • Irritability
  • Failure to thrive
  • Rashes
  • Developmental and learning disabilities

TORCH Infection Diagnosis: TORCH Screen

Diagnosis of TORCH infection or another congenital infection is done through a TORCH screen. The screen is a group of blood tests that check for infections in a newborn. The test is sometimes spelled TORCHS, where the “S” stands for syphilis. The testing is done through a blood sample from the baby’s finger or foot.

TORCH Infection Treatment

Treatment is based on the specific virus or condition the child is experiencing. The pediatric infectious disease specialists with Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases can work to develop a treatment plan based on the child’s specific congenital infection diagnosis.

Why Choose Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases?

  • Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases specializes in the care of children from birth through adolescence.
  • With seven infectious diseases specialists and one nurse practitioner on staff, your child can be seen quickly, especially for urgent needs.
  • Members of our team are nationally recognized and have held or serve in leadership positions related to infectious diseases.
  • Our provider team is leading Norton Children’s Hospital and Norton Children’s Medical Group in COVID-19 efforts, helping streamline infection prevention and providing patient care during the pandemic.
  • Our team provides inpatient consultation services at Norton Children’s Hospital and Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, as well as telemedicine services throughout Kentucky. Our physicians also treat patients at UofL Hospital.
  • Keep up with your child’s lab results, communicate with your provider and schedule appointments through MyNortonChart.
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