Avoiding Food-Borne Illness

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Toxoplasmia and listeriosis are the two food-borne infections that are of particular concern for pregnant women. During pregnancy, safe food handling practices become even more important when germs can effect your growing fetus. Understanding which foods to avoid during pregnancy and keeping clear of infections keep you and your baby healthy.

Toxiplasmosis

Toxiplasmosis stems from a single celled parasite: toxoplasma gondii. In most cases there are no symptoms and toxiplasmosis is often mistaken for the stomach flu. If detected early, there is a good chance the fetus will not be affected. In extreme cases toxiplasmosis can cause mental retardation, seizures, hearing loss and other problems. To avoid toxiplasmosis:

1. Avoid undercooked or raw meets, especially pig and sheep products
2. Have someone else change the cat litter
3. Wash fruits and vegetables well

Listeriosis

Listeriosis comes form the bacterium listeria monocytongenes. Listeria is killed by the pasteurization process and heat, making it important to eat foods that are well cooked during pregnancy. Symptoms can occur anywhere from 2-30 days after contamination and range from mild flu-like nausea to vomiting, headaches, fever and muscle aches. Listeriosis can be treated with antiobitics and in the most extreme cases infection can result in miscarriage, premature labor and stillbirth. To avoid listeriosis:

1. Avoid unpasteurized cheeses: brie, camembert, blue-veined cheeses, feta and mexican style cheese like queso fresco, queso blanco and panela.
2. Avoid pate and meat spreads
3. Avoid smoked seafood

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