Monday, July 23, 2012

What NOT to eat while pregnant

OK, so I just wrote a post two days ago about what can you eat while pregnant and nursing  Unfortunately, in that post, I had neglected to mention what you should definitely NOT eat while pregnant due to the potential risk to the unborn child.  The following information was put forth by the March of Dimes.  You should definitely NOT eat:
  • Unpasteurized milk or juice
    • They can carry disease-causing bacteria (such as Salmonella and E. coli), making them unsafe choices for pregnant women.
    • Pregnant women can sometimes become seriously ill from these infections. Occasionally, a pregnant woman can pass a Salmonella or E. coli infection on to her fetus, who can develop diarrhea, fever and, less frequently, meningitis after birth. 
    • The FDA requires that packaged, unpasteurized juices carry a label stating that they are not pasteurized
  • Soft cheeses, such as feta, brie, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco or Panela, unless the cheese is labeled as made with pasteurized milk. Hard cheeses, processed cheeses, and cream and cottage cheeses are safe.
    • Certain soft cheeses can cause a form of food poisoning called listeriosis. Listeriosis is caused by a bacterium (Listeria monocytogenes) and is especially dangerous during pregnancy. 
    • When a pregnant woman is infected with listeriosis, she may have a miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth, or her newborn baby may become seriously ill and may die.
  • Unheated deli meats and hot dogs
    • Ready-to-eat meats (including packaged luncheon meats and deli meats) poses the same listeriosis hazard as mentioned above.
  • Refrigerated, smoked seafood
  • Pregnant women should not eat fish that can be high in mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish
    • Pregnant women can eat up to 12 ounces a week of fish that are low in mercury, including shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish and canned light tuna.
    • Women should eat no more than 6 ounces of albacore (white) tuna, which has more mercury than canned light tuna, in one week
    • Some omega-3 rich fish that are low in mercury include salmon, herring, anchovies, sardines and trout.
    • According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), women who are pregnant or planning pregnancy should avoid eating game fish without first checking its safety with their local health department
      • Some game fish also may be contaminated by other industrial pollutants, such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Some studies suggest that exposure to high levels of PCBs before birth may contribute to learning problems, decreased IQ and reduced birthweight
    • A pregnant woman should avoid sushi and other raw fish, especially shellfish (oysters, clams). These can be polluted by raw sewage and can contain harmful microbes that can lead to severe gastrointestinal illness. 
  • Undercooked poultry, meat or seafood
    • Pregnant women should avoid eating raw or undercooked meats, poultry and eggs because they can increase their risk of a number of food-borne illnesses (including listeriosis, E. coli and Campylobacter infections, salmonellosis and toxoplasmosis). 
    • If a pregnant woman contracts toxoplasmosis, there’s about a 50 percent chance she will pass it on to her unborn baby. Some affected babies develop vision and hearing loss, intellectual disabilities, seizures and other problems.  Toxoplasmosis can also be found in cat feces and pregnant women should not change a cat's litter box.
    • Pregnant women should use a meat thermometer to make sure that meat and poultry are thoroughly cooked. 
    • Eggs, which can be contaminated with Salmonella, should be cooked until both the yolk and white are firm. Pregnant women should avoid foods made with raw or partially cooked eggs, like egg nog and hollandaise sauce. 
What you should definitely take if you are of child bearing age (whether you're pregnant or not), is at least 400mcg of folic acid daily.  According to the March of Dimes, "An overwhelming body of evidence shows that daily consumption of folic acid is a safe and effective means of preventing neural tube defects, serious birth defects of the brain and spine."   

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