With food recalls and listeria outbreaks occurring regularly, it’s important for pregnant women to protect themselves.
Your physician probably told you to nix unpasteurized cheeses, deli meats and sushi while you’re pregnant to avoid listeriosis, a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria listeria monocytogenes.
You can be exposed to listeria at any time in your life but during pregnancy the risk is higher. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate 14 percent of cases occur during pregnancy. What’s more, pregnant women are approximately 13 times more likely to be infected.
If you’re exposed to listeria or another pathogen when you’re pregnant, it could put you and your baby at risk for serious complications, said Dr. Alane Parke, an OB/GYN at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. Since listeria crosses the placenta, it can cause miscarriage, pre-term labor, stillbirth, or serious illness or death in your newborn.
Symptoms of listeriosis can mimic the flu: fever, chills, headache, body aches and gastrointestinal symptoms. Loss of balance and confusion can occur as well. What’s more, since symptoms can take days or even weeks to develop, you could be putting you and your baby at risk and not even know it.
The good news is that listeriosis during pregnancy is more rare than women often fear, Parke said. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to take some steps to avoid being exposed so you can protect yourself and your baby. Here are 12.