What are torch infections?

NCLEX Review: What are TORCH Infections?

Hey, everyone! If you’re studying for the NCLEX®, watch our quick 2-min overview of “TORCH” and Toxoplasmosis, one of the TORCH infections. Or just skim the transcript below and try our handy nursing visual mnemonic study tool, the Obstetrics-related Picmonic for “TORCH Screening”.

Today we are highlighting the TORCH infections.

TORCH infections are the group of diseases that cause congenital conditions if the fetus is exposed to them in the uterus.

These infections are often confusing, so we’ll go over them one by one so you understand them clearly!

The acronym TORCH stands for:

  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Other
  • Rubella
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Herpes simplex

So, what is Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is a disease that is caused by the toxoplasma gondii parasite, a protozoan parasite that is very common and often found in cat feces. That’s why this protozoan infection is often associated with pregnant women changing cat litter boxes.

The protozoa can cross the placenta of pregnant women and have detrimental effects on the growing fetus.


While mothers who contract the disease are usually asymptomatic, infants can present with many symptoms that are common among the TORCH infections.

So, let’s go over some of those symptoms. There are baby intrauterine growth retardations, which means poor growth of a fetus while in the mother’s womb during pregnancy.

Another one is hepatosplenomegaly, meaning the enlargement of the liver and spleen.

liver and spleen cartoon

Deafness and chorioretinitis, or the inflammation of the choroid and retina of the eye, is also common.


Other symptoms are hydrocephalus, or the abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, as well as scattered calcifications in the white matter, basal ganglia and cortex of the brain.

So, you can see why it is SUPER important that this is screened for with the other TORCH infections.

And, of course, when getting the mother’s health history, definitely be sure to consider if the mother has a cat or would be cleaning cat litter at any time!

And to really solidify this information in your brain, be sure to check out our Picmonic on TORCH screening!

As always, good luck studying!

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Marlee Liberman

Marlee Liberman, RN, Master Nursing Scholar

As a registered nurse, Marlee understands the struggles that nursing school throws at you – not to mention the overwhelming pressure preparing for the NCLEX®! Marlee brings a unique skill set and perspective to Picmonic with her previous degree in broadcast journalism, her creativity in video production, and her wandering nomad lifestyle. Her blend of talents provides her with the knack for simplifying complicated concepts and demystifying the world of nursing.

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