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Food Poisoning During Pregnancy

Food Poisoning During Pregnancy

It is essential for a mother-to-be to eat healthy food, and be cautious about a lot of things to keep her baby safe. This article provides you with information about the kinds of food poisoning and precautionary measures to avoid them.
Rutuja Jathar
Last Updated: Dec 21, 2017
Pregnancy is the most precious and defining stage in a woman's life. At such a stage, food poisoning could be a hazardous occurrence, and should be avoided by all means. Vomiting, stomach pain, headache, and fever, are the common symptoms. Expecting mothers usually recover quite soon after getting affected, unless the case is severe. It is a general misconception that eating outdoors is the cause of poisoning. Sometimes, food items eaten at home too can be responsible. Hence, it becomes essential for a woman to take extra care from the early stages of pregnancy, as two lives are at stake.
Food poisoning during pregnancy is a potential risk to the fetus, which can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth. A balanced diet consisting of nutritious food is very important to induce immunity against bacteria which cause poisoning symptoms. Let us look at the types of food poisoning, and learn how to avoid them.
Listeriosis
This is a hazardous kind of poisoning caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. This bacteria is usually present in the living environment, that is, soil and water. It gets dangerous when it comes in contact with food products such as vegetables, any kind of dairy product, meat, and various kinds of processed food. Pregnant women are 20% more susceptible to listeriosis. Taking antibiotics, which is the best suggested medication, can have a negative effect on the fetus. So, early detection of the disease is a must.
Symptoms
The symptoms are visible within 30 days of the infection, but sometimes don't show up till three months of consuming the contaminated food. These symptoms are muscle aches, headaches, fever, loss of balance, and convulsion. In severe cases, symptoms include brain stroke, meningitis, or septicaemia. Pregnant women experience mild flu or flu-like feeling, that they tend to ignore. The infection, if not detected early and treated properly, can eventually lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.
Precautionary Measures
  • First and foremost thing is to keep an eye on the early symptoms of the disease, and not to ignore them.
  • Do not consume unpasteurized milk or any milk products prepared using it.
  • Don't eat salads on the roads, that consist of seafood, ham, eggs, and chicken.
  • Avoid processed cheese, such as Brit, feta, blue-veined cheese, Mexican style queso blanco fresco cheese, Camembert, etc. Hard cheese like cheddar, and semi-soft cheeses like mozzarella, cottage, and cream cheese can be consumed.
  • Never consume smoked seafood, unless it is a part of any other dish, like casseroles.
  • Avoid consuming refrigerated cheese spreads, meat spreads, or pate.
  • Consume the ready-to-eat food within a short while after buying it.
  • Keep the kitchen, dining area, refrigerator, and other food-storing places clean.
Toxoplasmosis
Caused by the parasite protozoan Toxoplasma gondii, this infects all hot-blooded living organisms, including human beings. It attacks its host in two ways: as acute toxoplasmosis and latent toxoplasmosis. The host of this disease generally acquires its parasites by swallowing the eggs which are present in the soil, or any other contaminated surfaces. Accidentally putting your hand in the mouth right after gardening, or having contact with a cat's feces, leads to this kind of infection. In case you are planning a pregnancy, it is a must to do the tests for toxoplasmosis. If the results are positive, consult your physician at the earliest. In case of a negative result, consider the precautions to be taken.
Symptoms
It generally shows none or typical flu-like symptoms. An expecting mother gets infected by the parasites, and the infection spreads to her fetus. This may prove fatal, and further lead to stillbirth, miscarriage, or even birth defects. The general symptoms of acute toxoplasmosis are normally flu-like, such as swelling of lymph nodes, muscle ache, headache, etc. Sometimes the patient's eye may get damaged due to this acute type of poisoning. On the other hand, the symptoms of latent toxoplasmosis are not visible for even months. The infection may lead to some psychological disorders as well, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorders, Parkinson's disease, etc.
Precautionary Measures
  • Never clean the cat's house or the cat's feces on your own, and if you do, use a face mask and gloves. Later, washing and cleaning your hands with a medicated soap is a must.
  • Keep the cat indoors as much as possible so that it doesn't come in contact with the eggs of the parasite
  • Make it a point to keep every table or countertop clean.
  • Wash all the vegetables, fruits, and food items, that are likely to get in touch with the cat's feces.
  • Wear hand gloves and footwear while gardening.
  • Consume well-cooked meat, and strictly avoid dry meat. Also, wash and clean all the utensils after preparing any dish.
  • Try to avoid untreated water as far as possible. Make a habit of having boiled water.
Other types of Food Poisoning
Pregnant women are also vulnerable to infection from other bacteria and parasites, like campylobacter infections, shigella, botulism, salmonella, etc. All in all, they are more prone to listeriosis and toxoplasmosis.
Avoiding such infections is a priority on your to-do list. Follow the above hygiene rules as much as you can to keep yourself and your bundle of joy safe!
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is solely for informative purpose and not intended to replace the advice of medical experts.