Top 10 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
Even if you've always had a stomach of iron,
pregnancy weakens your immune
system and makes you more vulnerable to food-borne illnesses that could make you
sick and harm your baby. So it's important to avoid certain foods during
Dangerous bacteria and parasites like listeria,
staphylococcus aureus, and E. coli can lurk in improperly prepared, cooked, and
stored foods. And listeria and toxoplasma can cross your placenta and affect
your baby even if you never feel symptoms of the illness yourself. So if you've
always licked the spoon clean of cookie dough, enjoyed Caesar salads with raw
egg in the dressing, and ordered your burgers medium rare, pregnancy is a time
to rethink these practices and err on the side of food safety, experts say.
Listeria infections are responsible for about 500 deaths a
year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
well-balanced diet is important during pregnancy. Most fresh foods
are wholesome and safe to eat, however some foods should be avoided during
Raw Meats and Seafood including sushi - all uncooked and rare meats and seafood
should be avoided due to high risk of listeriosis and salmonella poisoning.
While anyone who eats these foods is at risk of listeriosis, most people will
never feel its symptoms. However, a pregnant woman's immune system is severely
compromised due to the pregnancy which leaves her very vulnerable to this
infection. Contracting listeriosis during pregnancy can lead to preterm
even miscarriage. Sometimes the infection can even cause death.
Deli meats including hot dogs - these deli meats might be contaminated with listeria bacteria which may result in miscarriage or even a stillbirth. It's
safe to eat deli meats if you reheat them until steaming hot. If not prepared
and handled properly, deli-style salads (especially those containing protein,
like egg, chicken, ham, and seafood) can be contaminated with listeria. This
includes salads from the store as well as those that are homemade – and
sandwiches made from these salads.
Refrigerated smoked seafood - for the same reason of listeria contamination. It
is safe if they are contained in cooked dishes. Canned and shelf-stable versions
are safe to eat.
Raw eggs -
raw eggs may contain salmonella. Some Caesar salad dressings,
mayonnaise, homemade ice cream and custards as well as Hollandaise sauces may be
made with raw eggs. It is best to check with your server in a restaurant; if in
doubt, it is best to avoid it. In addition, un-pasteurized eggnog should be
Fish high in mercury - avoid high-mercury
fish such as Shark, Swordfish, King
Mackerel and Tilefish. Also limit fish intake to no more than 2 servings per
week. The FDA recommends that pregnant women eat no more than 12 ounces of fish
per week. Safe choices that are low in mercury are shrimp, salmon, pollock and
catfish. Light albacore tuna and tuna steaks should be limited to 6 ounces per
Soft cheese -
avoid the following soft cheeses: Feta, Brie, and Camembert
cheeses, blue-veined cheeses, queso blanco, queso fresco and Panela. They are
safe to eat if they are labeled pasteurized.
pates or meat spreads - for the same reason of listeria
contamination. It is safe to eat the canned or shelf-stable versions.
Liver - liver is a rich source of iron. However it contains a high level of
Vitamin A. Large amounts of
Vitamin A can be harmful to the baby.
Unpasteurized milk and juices - Dairy products that are not pasteurized
hold the potential of listeria contamination. Unpasteurized milk and many soft
cheese should be avoided during pregnancy. If the label states that the cheese
is made from pasteurized milk, it is safe for consumption during pregnancy. If
the label is not clear, it is best to avoid it.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy carries serious potential side
effects to the unborn baby. Fetal alcohol syndrome,
stillbirth and an impact on brain development can result from alcohol
consumption during pregnancy. No amount of alcohol has been deemed safe during
pregnancy, so it should be avoided completely.
Dated 28 August 2012