Epidemiology and Infection

Research Article

The effectiveness of a prenatal education programme for the prevention of congenital toxoplasmosis

A. O. Cartera1 c1, S. B. Gelmona2, G. A. Wellsa1 and A. P. Toepella3

a1 Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Department of National Health and Welfare, Ottawa, Canada

a2 Association of University Programs in Health Administration, Arlington, Virginia, USA

a3 Department of Applied Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, Canada


A 10 min education programme was developed which, if effective in changing the behaviour of pregnant women, would eliminate or greatly reduce the risk of congenital toxoplasmosis. It was taught in 26 randomly selected (case) prenatal classes offered to women early in their pregnancy. The remaining 26 (control) classes received routine class material which did not mention toxoplasmosis. A questionnaire was administered to all women prior to this early class (pre-test) and again after the last prenatal class, held just prior to delivery (post-test). Changes in pet, food and personal hygiene behaviour between the pre- and post-test were determined and a score calculated by adding points for change towards those behaviours recommended in the programme and subtracting points for change in the opposite direction. Cat owners in case classes had a significantly higher score in pet hygiene behaviour than those in control classes (P < 0·05). No significant difference was found between the food or personal hygiene scores of women in case and control classes, possibly because of low power. However, although behaviours did not differ on the pre-test, women in case classes had significantly better cooking methods for roast beef and hamburger on the post-test (P < 0·05 and P < 0·01 respectively). It is concluded that this programme is effective and should be offered to all women in order to reduce congenital toxoplasmosis incidence.

(Accepted June 16 1989)


c1 Dr Anne O. Carter, Chief, Disease Surveillance Division, Bureau of Communicable Disease Epidemiology, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa, Ontario. K1A 0L2, Canada