Parasitic Worm Infection During Pregnancy

It is best to prevent parasitic worm infection during pregnancy – like tapeworms. There are a couple of ways to reduce your risk of becoming infected with tapeworms:

  • Practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially when working with raw meat.
  • Reduce your contact with livestock. Many types of livestock are carriers of tapeworms, so contact with their fecal matter can result in infection.
  • Try to avoid traveling to countries where there are inadequate sanitation procedures.
  • Make sure to cook meat all the way through.

If you do become infected with tapeworms, it is best to consult your physician. Based on the severity of your infection and the type of tapeworm you are infected with, your doctor will decide whether to delay treatment until after pregnancy or prescribe medication.

How do you treat tapeworms naturally during pregnancy?

Tapeworms are parasites that live in the gastrointestinal tract or in larval cysts that can be found throughout the body.
Five varieties of tapeworms most often infect humans:

  • T. saginata, or more commonly known as beef tapeworm, infection is caused when you ingest undercooked beef that contains larval cysts.
  • T. solium, also known as pork tapeworm, infection occurs when you eat undercooked pork.
  • D. latum, or fish tapeworm, can infect you when you eat undercooked freshwater fish.
  • H. nana, also known as dwarf tapeworm, is the only species of tapeworm that can transfer from human to human.
  • Echinococcus covers three tapeworm species that are ingested. Once ingestion takes place, the larva can move throughout the body causing cysts to form on your organs.

There are certain areas of the world where tapeworm infections are more common.
For example, in Latin America, China, and Southeast Asia, there is a higher likelihood of developing a tapeworm infection from pork.

How to Treat Tapeworm Infection During Pregnancy When Doing It Naturally Doesn’t Work

If your doctor decides it would be safest to treat you while you are pregnant, the method of treatment may differ depending on what type of tapeworm you are infected with:

  • For beef tapeworm, your doctor will most likely prescribe praziquantel or niclosamide.
  • For pork tapeworm, you will most likely be given praziquantel or niclosamide. If the infection causes cysts in the brain parenchyma, you will most likely be given albendazole or praziquantel, and corticosteroids.
  • For fish tapeworm, praziquantel and vitamin B supplementation (including folic acid) are used for treatment.
  • For dwarf tapeworm, praziquantel or niclosamide is most often used to treat the infection.
  • Lastly, for Echinococcus tapeworms, albendazole, praziquantel, or surgery are typically required for treatment.

The most common medications for treatment during pregnancy, Praziquantel, and Niclosamide, are both in risk category B. Most often, doctors will prescribe these medications if the risk of withholding treatment outweighs the risk of the potential drug effects to the fetus during pregnancy.

Compiled using information from the following sources:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (January 10, 2013).Parasites – Taeniasis.

2. Mayo Clinic. (December 20, 2011). Diseases and Conditions: Tapeworm infection.

3. Sweet, R. L. & Gibbs, R. S. (2002). Parasitic Disease in Pregnancy in Infectious Diseases of the Female Genital Tract, 4th edition (601-2).Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.