Pregnancy Food Safety
During your nine months of pregnancy, certain foods may be off limits. This is because during pregnancy your immune system weakens, making your body more vulnerable to certain bacteria, viruses and parasites. Below are a few bacteria and parasites of particular concern to pregnant women, the foods they affect and common complications.
- Toxoplasma gondii – Avoid undercooked meats, eggs, unpasteurized milk and unwashed fruits and vegetables. Also avoid cat litter boxes and gardening without gloves.
Infection rarely produces noticeable symptoms in mother. Symptoms may include swollen glands, fever, headache, muscle pain and stiff neck. 50% of women pass infection to fetus, which can cause blindness, deafness and mental retardation in baby.
- Lysteria monocytogenes – Avoid hotdogs and luncheon meats (unless reheated to steaming hot), undercooked chicken, refrigerated meat spreads (or pâtés), smoked seafood, soft cheese unless made with pasteurized milk (feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheese [i.e.: blue cheese, gorgonzola, etc.], queso blanco, queso fresco and Roquefort), unwashed fruits and vegetables and unpasteurized milk products.
Pregnant women are twenty times more likely to become infected. Infected mothers may develop varying levels of flu-like symptoms and can have miscarriage, premature or stillborn delivery. Once born, babies can become severely ill or die.
- Escherichia coli – Avoid raw and undercooked meats, raw shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels), raw sprouts (alfalfa, clover and radish) and unpasteurized milk and fruit juice. Infected mother may experience abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea. Once born, babies can develop diarrhea, fever and meningitis.
- Salmonella enteritidis – Avoid undercooked beef and chicken, raw eggs, raw sprouts and unpasteurized fruit juices. Mother may become severely ill with diarrhea, nausea, cramping and fever. Once born, babies can develop diarrhea, fever and meningitis.
Although the thought of forgoing, or taking on additional steps in preparing, your favorite foods may not be exciting, passing up these foods for ten months will help ensure a happy and healthy delivery for you and baby. So take the steps now to protect you both.