TORCH Infections

TORCH complex (also known as STORCH, TORCHES or the TORCH infections) is a medical acronym for a set of perinatal infections (i.e. infections that are passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus). The TORCH infections can lead to severe fetal anomalies or even fetal loss. They are a group of viral, bacterial, and protozoan infections that gain access to the fetal bloodstream transplacentally via the chronic villi. Hematogenous transmission may occur at any time during gestation or occasionally at the time of delivery via maternal-to-fetal transfusion.

The TORCH complex was originally considered to consist of four conditions, with the TO referring to Toxoplasma. The four-term form is still used in many modern references, and the capitalization TORCH is sometimes used in these contexts. Alternatively, the O is redefined as other, and the acronym is spelled out as follows:

1. T – Toxoplasmosis/Toxoplasma gondii
2. O – Other infections (see below)
3. R – Rubella
4. C – Cytomegalovirus
5. H– Herpes simplex virus

The other agents included under O are Hepatitis B, Coxackievirus, Syphilis, Varicella-Zoster virus, HIV and Parvovirus B19.