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Foods to Avoid in Pregnancy

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If you’re pregnant, you should avoid eating some foods during your pregnancy.

Listeria is a bacteria that’s present in many foods. For the most part, this bacteria causes a diarrheal illness in adults. In pregnant women, listeria infection can cause stillbirths, miscarriages and preterm labour.

Pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get listeria than other adults.  

This infection can be passed on to the unborn child and may result in fetal death.  

Listeria is in unpasteurized and soft cheeses, such as feta and queso fresco.  Unpasteurized milk may also contain listeria. There is a growing trend among gourmands to seek out unpasteurized milk and cheese as the flavours are not affected by the process of pasteurization. Processed meats such as hot dogs and cold cuts may also contain listeria.

The immune system is affected by pregnancy and thus pregnant women are much more likely to get an infection from exposure to these bacteria.

Other bacteria are present in foods that might cause greater illness in pregnant women. E.coli and salmonella are present in prepared salads and sprouts.  Unpasteurized fresh pressed cider may also contain salmonella.  

Certain fish may contain high levels of mercury and yet the right type of fish consumption might help in providing omega-3 fatty acids necessary for baby’s brain development. Shellfish may contain vibrio, the bacteria that leads to cholera.

The list of do’s and don’ts in pregnancy can be frightening. The CDC has an excellent website with a chart of foods to avoid and tips on food handling. This list simplifies what to avoid. Focus then on what to include to grow a happy healthy baby!

Learn more at foodsafety.gov/risk/pregnant/chklist_pregnancy.html.

Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and grandmother of one lovely princess! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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