Foods to Avoid When You're Pregnant
Pregnant? Think twice about these foods to avoid health risks for you and your baby.
Raw Vegetable Sprouts
The FDA advises everyone, regardless of pregnancy, not to eat raw sprouts -- including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts.
The reason: Bacteria can get into sprout seeds and are "nearly impossible" to wash out, states the FDA's web site. The FDA recommends that pregnant women request that raw sprouts not be added to your food.
It's OK to eat thoroughly cooked sprouts, according to the FDA.
Drinks to Limit or Avoid
Alcohol (beer, wine, or spirits) robs developing cells of oxygen and nutrients, preventing normal fetal development. The effects of alcohol exposure in the womb on intellectual abilities and physical growth are permanent.
According to the CDC and the March of Dimes, there is no level of alcohol consumption that's known to be safe at any time during pregnancy.
Unpasteurized juices, such as cider purchased from roadside stands, at farms, or in stores. These products are prone to germs, including E. coli. Check the label to be sure juice is pasteurized.
Lead is linked to low birth weight, preterm delivery, and developmental delays in children. If you have an older home with pipes made of lead, it can leach into your tap water, and home filtration systems may not prevent it from reaching you.
If you’re in doubt about your tap water, have it tested.
Bottled water isn't necessarily purer; it's often repurposed municipal water.
Caffeine from coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy beverages, and other sources may increase the risk of miscarriage, reduced birth weight, and stillbirth, but the research is conflicting. The March of Dimes recommends limiting caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams a day. That's about the amount found in 12 ounces of coffee.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
BPA is an industrial chemical used to make many hard plastics and the liners of many canned foods. It's an endocrine disruptor that could disturb normal fetal development, Lu says.
The FDA is studying BPA and has not recommended that pregnant women avoid BPA. But in January 2010, the FDA stated that "recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children." Most of those tests have been done on animals, and the FDA says there are "substantial uncertainties" about BPA's effects on human health. The plastics industry has maintained that low levels of BPA exposure are safe.
If you choose to avoid BPA while pregnant, a wide range of BPA-free plastics and glass containers are available.
Herbal Teas and Supplements
Herbal teas are caffeine-free, but their safety is unclear when you’re expecting. There are no reliable human studies on the safety of herbal preparations, including supplements such as Echinacea and St. John’s wort, during pregnancy.The FDA does not routinely monitor the quality of dietary supplements.