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10 foods to avoid while pregnant

By: By Scott Dunlop 2012-04-17 15:22
There are some kinds of foods which should be avoided when pregnant. Some may harm the health of the expectant mother, some, the developing baby, as they may contain harmful bacteria or toxins.

Here are ten of the most common foods to avoid if you’re expecting, and why:

•    Cheese: Not all cheeses are harmful, but you should avoid mould-ripened cheeses such as blue cheeses, brie, camembert, Danish Blue, Roquefort, for example. These cheeses may contain listeria bacteria which could cause listeriosis, which, at worst, could lead to still-birth or miscarriage.

•    Meats and processed meats: The rule is not to eat raw or undercooked meats while you’re pregnant. Make sure that all meat is well-cooked, and consider getting a meat thermometer to ensure that the meat is cooked evenly. Either avoid processed meats such as hotdogs or polony, or make sure that they are completely cooked. This is because the risk of food poisoning is higher in pregnant women.

•    Paté: Paté made from meats may also carry the listeria bacteria. Avoid eating it while pregnant.

•    Fish: Raw fish should be avoided, as well as fish with potentially high mercury content. Older, larger fish may have higher mercury content. Mercury could create problems with the development of your baby’s nervous system. In particular, swordfish, shark and king mackerel should be avoided for this reason. Shellfish should be avoided if the expectant mom is not sure if she is allergic. Scientists do say, however, that fish may be eaten during pregnancy- as with all things- in moderation.

•    Eggs: Raw eggs (and foods cooked using raw eggs) may contain salmonella, a harmful bacterium. Some home-made mayonnaises, salad dressings and sauces contain raw egg, as does raw batter. Eggs may be eaten if properly cooked, all the way through.

•    Milk: Don’t drink raw (unpasteurised) milk, or cheeses made from it, such as goat’s cheese. If that’s all you have available, boil it before consuming it.

•    Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are great, but only if they have been washed thoroughly to remove all traces of soils. Soil on fruits and vegetables may cause toxoplasmosis, caused by a parasite. Toxoplasmosis has potentially devastating effects on an unborn baby.

•    Alcohol: Alcohol may severely affect your baby’s development. Avoid alcohol if pregnant (or even trying to conceive).

•    Caffeine: Caffeine intake should be limited during pregnancy, as too much caffeine has been linked to low birth weight and even miscarriage. It doesn’t have to be cut out altogether, but intake should be limited to 200mg per day. Remember that certain fizzy drinks contain caffeine, and check the ingredients so you know how much you’re consuming.

•    Liver: Liver, or products containing liver, such as vitamin supplements, has a high Vitamin A content. Too much vitamin A may harm your baby.

If you are used to a special or restricted diet, or unsure about what to eat while pregnant, do consult your GP, dietician or specialist about what is safe. Make sure you trust the supermarkets or suppliers where you buy your food. You can read more about healthy nutrition during pregnancy at Health24.


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