How to Sort Through All the News on Pregnancy
WebMD News Archive
According to a recent report from the FDA, pregnant women
should avoid eating certain species of large ocean fish including shark,
swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish because they may contain harmful mercury
kevels that may harm the nervous system of a developing fetus.
Michele Curtis, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and
gynecology at the University of Texas at Houston tells WebMD that if you eat
seafood, "be aware of what the local health department has said if about
fish in that area." If you are a sushi fan, "make sure that you go to a
reputable restaurant that handles foods properly to minimize the risk of
More importantly, she says, pregnant women should not consume
unpasteurized milk or cheese because it can contain Listeria, which can cause
an infection that can sometimes lead to death of the baby. "Some European
countries don't pasteurize milk or cheese so be wary when traveling in European
countries, " Curtis says.
Aside from the dos and don'ts recently in the news, there are
also some tried and true guidelines pregnant women can follow.
First and foremost, "women should continue to have a
healthy lifestyle during pregnancy just as they did before pregnancy," says
Gideon Koren, MD, director of the Motherisk program, a Canadian organization
designed to provide information to pregnant women and their doctors on
environmental agents and drugs during pregnancy.
"Do not self-prescribe even things that you used to take
yourself; go to the physician and ask before you take any medication even an
over-the-counter one," says Koren, also a professor of pediatrics and
pharmacology at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada.
Also, take folic acid before and during at least the first
weeks of pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects. "This is a time that
many women do not even know yet that they have conceived," he adds. Folic
acid is added to many foods in the U.S. and Canada, but women who don't eat
bread or enough vegetables (which also contain folic acid, a B-vitamin) may not
be getting enough and should start supplementing as soon as they begin to try
to conceive, he advises.