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
Toxoplasmosis is caused by the
parasite Toxoplasma gondii. A pregnant woman can give
toxoplasmosis to her fetus. Fetal toxoplasmosis can cause miscarriage,
stillbirth, and birth defects.
You can acquire the parasite by
accidentally swallowing Toxoplasma gondii eggs from soil
or other contaminated surfaces. This can happen by putting your hands to your
mouth after gardening, cleaning a cat's litter box, or touching anything that
has come into contact with cat feces.
Toxoplasmosis often has no
symptoms, or the symptoms are flu-like. You may have swollen lymph glands or
muscle aches and pains that last for a few days to several weeks.
If you are diagnosed with toxoplasmosis during your
pregnancy, you will be treated with antibiotics. If further testing shows that
your fetus is infected, you will be given antibiotics that are known to reduce
the impact of toxoplasmosis on the fetus.
To help prevent toxoplasmosis:
Pregnant women may become much
more ill from food poisoning than other people, so it is important that you
prevent food poisoning in your home by taking precautions when preparing and
storing foods. Perishable foods, such as eggs, meats, poultry, fish, shellfish,
milk, and milk products, should be treated with extra care.
U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends the following steps to prevent food
Pay particular attention to food
preparation and storage during warmer months when food is often served outside.
Bacteria grow faster in warmer weather, so food can spoil more quickly and
possibly cause illness. Do not leave food outdoors for more than 1 hour if the
temperature is above 90°F (32°C), and never leave it outdoors for more than 2 hours.
For more information, see the topics Toxoplasmosis
During Pregnancy, E. Coli Infection, and Food Poisoning and Safe Food
October 18, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
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