Helminth Infections in Pregnant Women

Jill E. Weatherhead, MD; Laila E. Woc-Colburn, MD, DTM&H


March 14, 2014

Differential Diagnosis

Hookworm (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale) is a nematode that resides in the small intestines of the human host and typically causes iron-deficiency anemia and malnutrition. Lymphatic filariasis is caused by infection with an invasive nematode (Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi) and is characterized by lymphedema, lymphatic hydrocele, and elephantiasis.

Trichuris is an intestinal nematode that resides in the colon of the human host; infection with this organism can lead to rectal prolapse, dysentery, and colitis. Ascaris lumbricoides, another nematode harbored by the human small intestine, causes ascariasis, which can result in intestinal obstruction, biliary tract obstruction, malnutrition, and Loeffler syndrome.

Schistosomiasis, an invasive trematode, is the source of intestinal disease, biliary disease, or urogenital disease, depending on the species. Schistosoma haematobium invades the venous plexus surrounding the urinary bladder in humans; the eggs penetrate into the bladder, uterus, cervix, or vagina, resulting in genitourinary disease, including cystitis, ureter obstruction, pyelonephritis, kidney failure, salpingitis, and fallopian tube obstruction with subsequent ectopic pregnancy.


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