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    Pregnancy Myths, Dos, and Don'ts

    What's safe to eat during pregnancy? Can hair dye hurt the fetus? How about changing the litterbox?

    You're pregnancy has attracted plenty of well-meaning advice on what to avoid to maintain your health. So, what to believe (other than what your doctor tells you)?

    Eating Cheese and Processed Meats During Pregnancy

    The CDC says listeriosis, a food-borne illness with mild flu-like symptoms that can be overlooked, can result in premature delivery, miscarriage, severe illness, or death of the baby. The U.S. Department of Agriculture cautions that you not eat unpasteurized soft cheeses (and other unpasteurized dairy products), hotdogs, or lunch meat unless they have been properly cooked.

    Cheeses made in the U.S. must be made from pasteurized milk (this process kills the listeria organism), so they are fairly safe. Imported, unpasteurized, or locally-made "natural" soft cheeses are potentially problematic. These may include Brie, Camembert, feta, goat, Montrachet, Neufchatel, and queso fresco. Listeria may also be found in unpasteurized semi-soft cheeses (slightly more solid cheeses that do not grate easily and are often coated with wax to preserve moisture and extend shelf life). Semi-soft cheeses include Asiago, blue, brick, Gorgonzola, Havarti, Muenster, and Roquefort.

    Cheddar, mozzarella, cream cheese, and cottage cheese are fine.

    Drinking Diet Soda During Pregnancy

    Minimal harmful effects have been shown from the use of the artificial sweetener aspartame in pregnancy, according to Siobhan M. Dolan, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. She says a daily diet pop or aspartame-sweetened yogurt is probably harmless for pregnant women.

    Drinking Coffee During Pregnancy

    Most studies show no adverse effects from three or four cups of coffee per day during pregnancy. Still, some doctors and midwives are cautious and point to studies linking java to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and migraines. There are some data that suggest that large amounts of caffeine lead to low-birth-weight babies.

    However, if you choose to drink coffee, moderation is key. "Sometimes it's harder on you to quit entirely," Dolan says. "Pregnancy is hard enough on you."

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