In a series of experiments during mid 1930s, a team of researchers in New York helped establish that bacteria of the species Toxoplasma gondii can infect humans, and in infants can cause toxoplasmosis, a disease that inflames brains, lungs, and hearts, and that can organisms that have it. The team included Abner Wolf, David Cowen, and Beryl Paige. They published the results of their experiment in Human Toxoplasmosis: Occurrence in Infants as an Encephalomyelitis Verification of Transmission to Animals. Toxoplasmosis is an infection that causes inflammations in the brain (encephalitis), heart (myocarditis), and lungs (pneumonitis). The disease is caused in organisms that consume items contaminated by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The bacteria can transfer from pregnant women to their fetuses during pregnancy (congenitally), and it can lead those fetuses to develop physical deformities and mental disabilities. The 1930s experiments established Toxoplasma gondii as a human pathogen and helped increase research into congenital toxoplasmosis, enabling later researchers to develop measures to prevent against the disease in pregnant women.

In September 2003, Robert L. Goldenberg and Cortney Thompson published the article “The Infectious Origins of Stillbirth” in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In the article, the authors conducted a literature review of articles from the US National Library of Medicine database to review the relationship between perinatal infections, which are infections around the time of birth, and the occurrence of stillbirth. Stillbirth is the death of a fetus in the uterus after at least twenty weeks of pregnancy. Infectious disease can cause or increase the risk of stillbirth in several ways, by causing illness in the pregnant person, damaging the placenta, or directly infecting the fetus. Infectious agents can be viruses, bacteria, or protozoa. Rates of infectious disease and stillbirth are both higher in developing than in developed countries, and the authors state that stillbirth due to infectious disease is also higher. “The Infectious Origins of Stillbirth” provides a comprehensive review of the information available on how infections can lead to stillbirth, providing a foundation for further research.

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