A woman’s food intake during pregnancy has a vital role in shaping her baby’s health.
While it’s essential to choose foods that are high in iron, folates, protein and calcium; certain foods may pose a risk to the mother’s and baby’s health.
Here are some foods that should be avoided during pregnancy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heavy consumption of alcohol during pregnancy has been linked with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders that include physical disabilities and learning and behavioural difficulties in children.
In the case of regular coffee drinkers, it is essential to limit the daily coffee intake during pregnancy. Consuming fewer than 200 mg of caffeine a day, which is the amount found in one 12-ounce cup of coffee, is generally considered safe during pregnancy.
- Fish with high levels of mercury
Seafood such as swordfish, white tuna, shark, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy and tilefish are high in levels of Methylmercury and should be avoided during pregnancy. Methylmercury is a toxic chemical that can pass through the placenta and can be harmful to an unborn baby’s developing brain, kidneys and nervous system.
- Unpasteurized food
Pregnant women are at high risk of contracting Listeriosis – food poisoning caused by Listeria bacteria.
The CDC says listeriosis may cause miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm labour, and illness or death in newborns. To prevent listeriosis, avoid the following foods during pregnancy:
1. Unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods made from it, such as feta, Brie, Camembert and Blue vein cheese.
2. Luncheon meats and cold cuts, unless it is preheated at a very high temperature to kill any bacteria.
3. Store-bought deli salads, unpasteurized refrigerated meat spreads or pates.
4. Unpasteurized juice.
- Raw or undercooked meat
A mother can pass a Toxoplasma infection (caused by a parasite) on to her baby, which can cause problems such as blindness and mental disability later in life. To prevent toxoplasmosis, the USDA recommends avoiding the following foods during pregnancy:
1. Rare, raw or undercooked meats and poultry.
2. Raw fish such as sushi, sashimi, ceviche and carpaccio.
3. Raw or undercooked shellfish such as clams, mussels, oysters and scallops.
According to Foodsafety.gov, the following foods may increase a pregnant woman’s risk of other types of food poisoning, including illness caused by Salmonella and E. coli bacteria:
1. Raw or undercooked eggs, such as soft-cooked, runny or poached eggs.
2. Raw or undercooked sprouts.