Foods to Avoid during Pregnancy

Most pregnant women go to great links to make sure they eat foods that will support their health and the health of their unborn child. They consume foods containing vitamins and other essential nutrients. Pregnant women must carefully chose foods because during this time because their immune system is more compromised. They are more susceptible to food-borne illness caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites. Even foods considered healthy must be avoided during pregnancy to prevent mothers and unborn babies from getting sick.

Seafood High in Mercury

Though seafood is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein, pregnant women should avoid fish and shellfish that may contain high concentrations of mercury. MayoClinic.com says high levels of mercury could hamper the development of an unborn child’s nervous system. Fish that have been known to contain large amounts of mercury include swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish. FoodSafety.gov recommends eating up to 12 ounces of low-mercury fish a week, limiting the consumption of albacore tuna to 6 ounces a week.

Raw Meats and Raw Shellfish

As mentioned earlier, protein plays a vital role in the development of an unborn child; however, pregnant women must avoid raw meats and raw shellfish. Raw meats and seafood include sushi, undercooked beef and poultry, and meats cooked rare or medium rare. These foods put pregnant women at risk for coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis and salmonella, according to the American Pregnancy Association. In addition, raw shellfish exposes women to algae-related infections like red tide. FoodSafety.gov says to cook fish to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. It also suggests cooking deli meats and processed meats even if it says precooked.

Raw Eggs

While most pregnant women don’t purposely consume raw eggs, they may eat dishes containing raw eggs like homemade eggnog, Caesar salad dressings, homemade ice cream, custards, mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, raw butter, and even casserole dishes. The American Pregnancy Association says eating raw eggs exposes pregnant women and their unborn children to salmonella. FoodSafety.gov says to make sure eggs are cooked until the yolks are firm and to cook casseroles, other dishes containing eggs and eggnog at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unpasteurized Dairy Products and Juices

Low-fat dairy products are a healthy part of pregnant women’s diet, providing calcium to the mother and baby. Fruit juices, too, give them vitamins and antioxidants needed for a healthy pregnancy for the mother and a healthy start for the baby. Unpasteurized dairy products and juices, though, may expose the two to food-borne bacteria like E. coli, listeria and salmonella. Unpasteurized dairy products include soft cheeses like brie, feta and blue cheese. FoodSafety.gov suggests boiling unpasturized juices and ciders for about a minute before drinking.

Raw Sprouts

Raw vegetable sprouts like alfalfa, clover, radish and mung beans contain lots of vitamins and nutrients. Pregnant women need to avoid raw sprouts because they may expose their unborn babies to salmonella and E. coli infections. BabyMed.com says that bacteria remain dormant when sprout seeds are stored in a dry place; however, bacteria appear when they grow in a warm environment. Even thoroughly washing sprouts does not remove bacteria. They must be cooked. If pregnant women order salads from a restaurant, they must remember to as that no sprouts are added.

Salads Made in Stores

Pregnant women should avoid store salads like ham, chicken, egg, tuna, and seafood because they may contain listeria, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Though most grocery stores try to maintain proper codes set for food safety, pregnant women cannot be sure how long the salads have been sitting out or if they may not have been cross contaminated during preparation. It’s best to make these salads at home and adhere to safety procedures like cleaning the surface, cooking ingredients completely, and refrigerating to prevent spoilage.

Many of the foods pregnant women should avoid may not pose health risks under different circumstances. During pregnancy, though, they could expose mother and baby to different infections that are dangerous and could even hamper fetal development. Pregnant women must, therefore, be conscientious when it comes to the food they eat, including making sure that they are properly prepared and stored before consumption. Taking necessary precautions minimize complications during and after pregnancy.