July 25, 2024

Preventing Listeriosis During Pregnancy

Pregnant women are at elevated risk for listerioisis, one of the deadliest kinds of food poisoning, and the complications can be tragic. Among pregnant women, Listeria infections can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and in newborns, infection or death.

Pregnant Woman Holding BellySymptoms, which can take as long as 70 days after exposure to develop, include fever, chills, muscle aches, diarrhea and upset stomach.

Most pregnant women are 10 times more likely than the general population to contract listeriosis. For pregnant women who are Hispanic, the risk is 24 times higher. Some of that increased risk is attributed to food choices like Mexican-style soft cheeses.

For all women, avoiding certain foods during pregnancy is the best way to reduce the risk of listeriosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), foods to avoid include: raw foods, unpasteurized beverages, hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats unless they are reheated until steaming hot;  deli salads, meat spreads or pâtés, smoked seafood unless it is used as an ingredient in a cooked dish and soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, and Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, or Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco, queso fresco, and Panela.

Pregnant women who discover they have eaten food that has been contaminated with Listeria and are showing symptoms are treated with antibiotics of the course of several days.

In the caramel apple Listeria outbreak, one third of the cases were related to pregnancy. A New Mexico woman who ate a contaminated apple gave birth several months prematurely. Her son spent more than four weeks in a neo-natal intensive care unit.


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