During pregnancy, changes in hormones can cause a woman's immune system
to become suppressed, so that it is harder to fight off infections. Some food-borne illnesses can cause a woman to have a miscarriage, stillbirth or serious health problems for the baby after birth. Pathogens are organisms (bacteria, virus, parasite) that can cause illness in humans. Because a mother's health behaviors have direct effects on the health of her baby, expectant mothers receive a lot of health information.
Along with nutrition concerns, a growing topic of importance is food safety during pregnancy. Examples of pathogens of special concern to pregnant women are Listeria monocytogenes, Toxoplasma gondii, Brucella species, Salmonella species and Campylobacter jejuni, and some can cross the placenta and increase the fetus's risk of becoming infected. Certain organisms, including Listeria monocytogenes, Toxoplasma gondii, Salmonella typhi and Campylobacter jejuni, can have adverse consequences for the fetus if they cross the placenta.
Avoid Foods from Unsafe Sources
Because pregnant women are at high risk for infection from the pathogens discussed above, they are advised to avoid foods that may be contaminated with these harmful pathogens.
The following foods should be avoided:
- Raw and undercooked meat
- Deli meat (sliced on deli counter)
- Prepared deli salads
- Polluted fish and fish with increased amount of mercury
- Smoked seafood
- Raw eggs
- Raw shellfish
- Soft cheeses
- Unpasteurized Milk or cheeses
- Too much caffeine (no more than 2 cups of coffee)