Food Poisoning During Pregnancy - Topic Overview
A balanced, nutritious diet during your pregnancy is
important to maintain your health and nourish your
fetus. When making your food choices, you generally
are able to eat the foods you usually eat. But because some types of
food poisoning pose a greater risk to you and your
fetus, you should take a few extra precautions when you choose and prepare your
Listeriosis is caused by Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium found in soil and water.
It can be found on vegetables, meats, and dairy products as well as in
processed foods such as soft cheeses and in cold cuts. Although the bacteria
are of little danger to healthy people, in pregnant women the infection can
result in premature delivery, serious infection of the newborn, or even
Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches,
and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. In some cases, headache, stiff neck,
confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur. Pregnant women who are
infected may experience only a mild, flu-like illness.
If you are
pregnant and get listeriosis, taking antibiotics can often prevent infection of
the fetus or newborn. Babies who have listeriosis receive the same antibiotics as
adults, although a combination of antibiotics is often used until doctors are certain of the diagnosis.
If you are
- Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli
meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
- Do not eat soft
cheeses unless the label states they are made from pasteurized milk. Common cheeses typically made with unpasteurized milk—such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, and Mexican-style
cheeses such as "queso blanco fresco"—can cause listeriosis. Hard cheeses and semisoft cheeses such
as mozzarella along with pasteurized processed cheese slices and spreads, cream
cheese, and cottage cheese are safe to eat.
- Do not eat
refrigerated pâté or meat spreads. But you can eat these foods if they are
- Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood unless it is an
ingredient in a cooked dish such as a casserole. Examples of refrigerated
smoked seafood include salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, and mackerel. You
may eat canned fish such as salmon and tuna or shelf-stable smoked seafood.
- Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or eat foods that contain
- Avoid eating salads made in a store, such as ham, chicken, egg,
tuna, or seafood salads.