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Also Known As: TORCH screen, TORCH syndrome test.


What Is The TORCH Panel Test?


TORCH panel is a medical acronym of a screening and diagnostic test for a group of infectious diseases that affect the pregnant woman and could pass into her unborn baby, causing congenital disabilities, neurological abnormalities, growth retardation, and even miscarriages.


It is vital to understand what each component of TORCH infection is and how they are caused:


  • TOXOPLASMOSIS: caused by a parasite named Toxoplasma Gondi. It is transmitted to humans by eating contaminated food with cat litter, uncooked or raw meat, uncooked eggs, or handling infected cats’ feces. If the mother gets infected with this infection during pregnancy, she can transmit it to the baby, causing congenital toxoplasmosis in the newborn; if it remains untreated can lead to blindness, deafness, intellectual disability, and seizures in newborns.


  • RUBELLA (German Measles): a contagious viral infection that spreads from person to person via sneezing and coughing. It causes mild illnesses like sore throat, rashes, and low-grade fever. Pregnant women are more prone to rubella infection during the first trimester; however, its incidence is low because of the availability of an effective vaccine. An infected mother can pass this virus to the baby, leading to serious conditions like heart defects, vision and hearing problems, premature births, miscarriage, and stillbirth. Later in childhood, neurologic, thyroid, and immune disorders can occur.


  • CYTOMEGALOVIRUS (CMV): a member of the herpes virus family and most common congenital infection in babes. The mother may receive this virus by sexual contact or by contact with body fluids like saliva and transmit it to her fetus during delivery or through breast milk. This virus leads to long-term conditions in infants, including vision and hearing difficulties and mental retardation.



  • HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS (HSV): is a common viral illness that causes “cold sores” on lips and genitals. Mother can acquire this virus through sexual and oral contact with the infected person and transmit it to the fetus in the uterus, during delivery, or as a newborn. This virus can result in low birth weight babies, preterm births, miscarriages, sores on the skin, mouth, and eyes of babies, and even damage the brain.


What Is The Test Used For?


It is a beneficial screening and diagnostic tool for detecting infectious diseases in pregnant women that can be transmitted to unborn babies, hence helping in preventing birth defects.

This test detects the antibodies in your body formed against any of the infections in the TORCH panel. Antibodies are the specialized proteins synthesized by your immune system to recognize and destroy harmful substances like viruses and bacteria. With this test, mostly 2 different types of antibodies are screened for each infection, immunoglobin G (IgG) and immunoglobin M (IgM).


If IgG is present in your body for a specific infective agent, that means you have had that infection previously, or you are vaccinated against that infection. If IgM is present, that means you are acutely ill and require medical attention.


Your health care provider would use this test along with your history of illness to assess whether the fetus has been exposed to an infection or not. More tests may be required to be carried out for confirmation of infection.


When And Why You Need To Get Tested?

You need to get tested if:


  • You’re pregnant.
  • You have had recurrent abortions or miscarriages.
  • You have signs and symptoms of illness of above mention TORCH panel infections.


The test may also be conducted on your newborn baby if:


  • The baby has congenital abnormalities.
  • The baby develops the signs and symptoms of the above-mentioned TORCH panel infections.
  • The baby develops jaundice, low platelet count, signs of mental retardation, low birth weight, small size relative to gestational age, heart defects, hearing and visual disability, congenital cataract, enlarged liver and spleen, etc.


Not every pregnant woman needs to be tested for TORCH penal. Your healthcare provider will guide you if it is necessary or not. The test is commonly ordered early in pregnancy, usually during the first 3 months of gestation. Since the fetus is in the developmental stage, its immune system will not be able to fight off these infections. Therefore, early detection and prompt intervention are necessary to prevent complications in the newborn. If you suspect the symptoms of any of these infections, immediately inform your healthcare provider.


What Kind Of Sample Is Required?


A blood sample (serum) is required. Your healthcare provider will use a needle to obtain a small amount of blood from the vein of your arm. The sample is collected in a test tube or vial. In the case of a newborn, a heal stick can be used to obtain a blood sample.


Do You Need To Prepare For Test?


No special preparation is required for the TORCH penal. However, if you are taking any over-the-counter medicine or any illegal drug, you should inform your health care provider before running this test.


Is There Any Risk To This Test?


No significant risk is related to this test. Since a needle is used to prick, you might feel stung and pain at the site of the prick. Very seldom, you may experience lightheadedness, bruising, and bleeding from the site of the prick. Rarely, the infection may occur. This test does not hold any risk for the fetus as well.


What Does Test Result Mean?


The results are usually obtained between 24 – 36 hours and are mostly termed as negative and positive.


  • A negative test depicts that neither IgG nor IgM antibody is found in your blood sample. This means you don’t have any of the TORCH infections.
  • A positive result with raised IgM antibodies suggests you are currently infected and can spread it to your unborn baby. More tests may be needed to evaluate the condition.
  • A positive test with raised IgG antibodies indicates that you had an infection in the past, but now you are not acutely ill or developed the immunity against that pathogen, or you’re vaccinated against that infection.
  • If both IgG and IgM are positive, additional tests are required to confirm the active infection, especially in newborns.


A negative result does not always mean that you’re free of disease because antibodies require time to be synthesized after the infection encounters. So, your healthcare provider may retest you or order some new tests for a better diagnosis.

Should you have any questions regarding your test results, you must consult your healthcare provider.


Related Tests


  • HIV test
  • Test for Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities
  • Gestational diabetes test
  • Hepatitis B and C serology
  • Syphilis antibody test

Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on June 05, 2023. 


TORCH Screen: Purpose, Procedure, and Results 


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