December 5, 2016

EWG Warns of Mercury in Seafood

Environmental Working Group (EWG) has produced a new study called "U.S. Fish Advice May Expose Babies to too Much Mercury." In it, they say that "adhering to the federal government's recommendations on seafood and mercury may be risky, potentially leading women to eat too much of the wrong kind of fish." The guidelines were issued as a draft recommendation in 2014 that recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding eat more fish that is lower in mercury. Their tests found that mothers who eat species of fish in the amounts recommended by the EPA and FDA may risk exposing their fetuses to harmful levels of mercury. And those species do not have enough omega-3 fatty acids that are recommended in the diet. Mercury has toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, … [Read more...]

What Scientists Say about Listeria and Pregnancy

Bidart Bros. Listeria caramel apple outbreak was a grim reminder about the special threat listeriosis poses to expecting mothers and their babies. As analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  eleven of the 35 illnesses attributed to the outbreak were pregnancy-related, with one case resulting in a fetal loss. One of the expecting mothers passed the Listeria bacteria to her fetus and the baby was born with an infection that required a month of  treatment in the neo-natal intensive care unit of Lovelace Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. Vanitha Janakiraman, writing in Obstetrics and Gynecology, provided in-depth information about the relationship between Listeria food poisoning and pregnancy. Infection from the pathogen is rare, but 20 more times common in … [Read more...]

Paris Researchers Find Placental Breach Mechanism for Listeria

As the deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks linked to recalled caramel apples made from Bidart brothers apples, and to Queseria Bendita cheese point out, pregnant women are very susceptible to these bacterial infections. In the caramel apple outbreak, ten pregnant women were sickened; one woman suffered a fetal loss. In the Queseria Bendita cheese outbreak, one infection was associated with a pregnancy. Scientists believe that the bacteria get into the placenta and hide from the mother's immune system, letting them multiple to dangerous levels. But the placental barrier usually acts as a barrier to bacteria. What makes Listeria different? Researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Paris have found that Listeria survives and grows within the intestinal lumen (channels in the … [Read more...]

Two Mechanisms for Fetal Infection with Listeria Bacteria

Pregnant women are at high risk for Listeria monocytogenes infections. Almost thirty percent of patients sickened in the current Listeria outbreak linked to caramel apples and plain apples packed by Bidart Brothers are pregnant women. One woman suffered a fetal loss. How are babies infected with this pathogenic bacteria when the mother eats contaminated food? There are two mechanisms for fetal infection, called early onset and late onset. Early onset occurs when a transplancental infection occurs: the bacteria has progressed to the placenta, where it is shielded from the mother's immune system and grows rapidly. A Listeria infection in pregnant women usually only produces mild symptoms including fever, headache, chills, back pain, and diarrhea. Those symptoms mimic the flu, which can … [Read more...]

Why are Pregnant Women So at Risk for Listeria Infections?

The ongoing Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apples and that may be associated with plain apples packed by Bidart Brothers has sickened 32 people and killed seven. Ten of these illnesses were in pregnant women; one woman suffered a fetal loss. Why is this infection so serious in pregnant women? One theory is that in pregnancy, the immune system is suppressed so the body doesn't reject the embryo and fetus. This reduction in immunity may be why these women are so susceptible to listeriosis and why the complications can be so severe. Researchers at Berkeley, however, discovered that Listeria monocytogenes bacteria use the immune system suppression to invade the placenta where they are protected from the mother's immune system. Once … [Read more...]

Bidart Brothers and the Caramel Apple Listeria Investigation

Food safety investigators in the United States are still probing to decipher what caused the deadly outbreak of Listeria poisoning associated with commercially made caramel apples, including whether there are common sources of caramel, caramel ingredients, sticks, or packaging to the various makers of these caramel apples. So far, the biggest common denominator between companies involved in the recall of potentially contaminated caramel apples is Bidart Brothers, the fruit supplier. Based on documents released so far by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California-based Bidart Bros. was first briefed about its possible involvement in the outbreak by FDA officials on December 22. On that same day, the company issued a recall of … [Read more...]

Missouri Becomes a Noted Site of Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak

Five Missourians have been confirmed as victims of a closely watched Listeria outbreak that state and national health officials have associated with pre-packaged, commercially produced caramel apples. As a leading site for the outbreak -- only one other state has had as many cases -- the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services is trying to trace where the tainted caramel apples were purchased. Ryan Hobart, a spokesman for the department, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that all of the Missouri Listeria cases were in the eastern or northeastern portion of the state. Hobart also said one of the state's case patients died, but that the cause of death was not Listeria poisoning. Among the 28 people in 10 states confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as … [Read more...]

New Study Links Phthalate Exposure with Lower IQ

A new study conducted at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health finds that children exposed during pregnancy to elevated levels of phthalates had lower IQ scores. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that those children had an IQ more than six points lower than the average. The two chemicals are di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP). They are found in many consumer products, including plastic food and beverage containers. Phthalates are banned in some children's toys, but the compounds are rarely listed on ingredient labels so they are difficult to avoid. In the study, researchers followed 328 New York City women and their children from low income communities. The women's exposure to four phthalates in their third trimester were … [Read more...]

FDA Updates Fish Advisory for Pregnant Women, Others

The Food and Drug Administration has updated their advice on how much fish pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and young children should eat, considering that much of that food is contaminated with mercury. This draft will replace the current advice issued ten years ago. Several advocacy groups, including Environmental Working Group, have been critical of the government's apparent lack of information and response on this issue. The FDA's last advice in 2011 told pregnant women to double their intake of fish to get more omega-3 fatty acids. This recommendation put pregnant women at risk of consuming harmful amounts of mercury. Mercury is actually present in food in the form of methylmercury. This neurotoxic compound adversely affects a developing fetus' brain and neurological … [Read more...]

FDA Highlights Foodborne Illness Dangers for Vulnerable Populations

The FDA has released a report about how foodborne illness is especially dangerous for vulnerable and high risk populations. That includes the very young who are under 1 year of age, older adults, immune-compromised individuals, and pregnant women. Those groups are especially vulnerable to Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. People in those groups accounted for at least 90% of Listeria cases. That illness has a 21% fatality rate. These groups are more at risk for serious complications and death from these infections because of their weaker immune systems. As we age, our immune system starts to wane. The amount of acid in the stomach, which can kill bacteria, declines. And side effects from treatments for other illnesses, such as chemotherapy for cancer, can weaken the immune system. … [Read more...]

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