July 12, 2024

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...]

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...]

Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

FoodSafety.gov has put together a list of foods that pregnant women should avoid eating. These foods can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria that can make you sick, make the fetus ill, and even cause miscarriage and stillbirth. Some bacteria such as Listeria and Toxoplasma can cause serious problems even if you don't feel sick. In fact, pregnant women with listeriosis often only have very mild symptoms and don't realize their fetus could be at risk. Soft cheeses are at the top of the list, especially those made from unpasteurized milk. Those include Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, and queso fresco, which can harbor E. coli or Listeria. If you enjoy cheese, eat hard cheeses such as Cheddar. Make sure any cheese you eat is made from pasteurized milk. Raw cookie … [Read more...]

Mother’s Vitamin D Level Linked to Babies’ Birth Weight

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism has found that vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women, especially during the first trimester, restricts the fetus' growth in utero. In fact, mothers with less than 0.015 parts per million of vitamin D in their blood in the first 26 weeks of pregnancy delivered babies who weighed 46 grams less than babies born to mothers with adequate levels. Those babies were more likely to fall in the lower 10th percentile for weight, a condition called "small for gestational age." The most usual source of vitamin D for people is exposure to sunlight. Especially in the northern hemispheres, it can be difficult to obtain enough vitamin D for good health. Very foods contain the vitamin naturally. Some foods, such as dairy … [Read more...]

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