Foods to Avoid When Pregnant

November 6, 2008

It can't be overstated - what you eat, and what you don't eat, during your pregnancy affect both you and your baby. Healthy eating is important, regardless whether you're pregnant or not, but it is even more important when you're nourishing a new life.

The Pregnancy No, Nos is Longer than Caffeine and Alcohol

Certain foods that would be considered unhealthy take on a whole new, and sometimes ominous, meaning when you are expecting a baby. You may not have been worried about alcohol or caffeine before you got pregnant, but after conceiving they can be very problematic for your developing baby, especially since it is not fully known what kind of an impact they can have. There are several foods you should avoid when you are pregnant to help protect your baby as he grows in your womb.

Drinking During Pregnancy Is Not Okay

Until recently, some doctors felt it was alright for a pregnant woman to drink moderately. Those days ended when, in February 2005, the US Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, issued a warning that no amount of alcohol can be considered safe during pregnancy. Diane Ashton, MD, assistant medical director of the March of Dimes says the reason for this warning is that "no one knows if there is a threshold for alcohol in pregnancy, and if there is, what it is, so it's better to just not drink any at all." If you were surprised by your pregnancy and had been drinking before you discovered you were expecting, stop immediately and begin taking folic acid to help decrease the risk of any serious side effects.

The Danger of Saccharin in Pregnancy

Saccharin, the artificial sweetener, is a very dangerous product for a pregnant woman to consume and one that doctors agree is of great concern. It has been shown to cross the placenta and go directly into the baby's bloodstream. High amounts of saccharin have been shown to increase the risk of bladder cancer in research animals. Since a developing baby is much less able to clear saccharin from their blood than an adult, it has the potential to build to dangerous levels. The risks of saccharin use are small during the beginning stages of pregnancy and the baby should be okay if you stop using saccharin within the first few weeks.

Mercury Poisoning in Pregnancy

Fish is a remarkable food for pregnant women and you should definitely eat it, particularly during pregnancy. Fish and shellfish help promote the baby's growth and development. However, fish containing high levels of mercury present a risk of harming the nervous system of the developing baby. The FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency issued a warning in 2004 that pregnant women and women looking to get pregnant, nursing mothers and children avoid all seafood high in mercury. Also, eating any fish raw while pregnant presents the danger of parasites and bacteria which can be very harmful to a pregnancy.

Make Sure the Milk is Pasteurized When Pregnant

Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning that can increase the chance of miscarriage, premature birth or stillbirth. A newborn exposed to listeriosis can become gravely ill and die. This bacterium is found in unpasteurized foods, particularly soft cheese such as Brie, Panela, feta and others as well as in unpasteurized fruit juices. Soft cheeses that are made from pasteurized milk are fine to eat. If you're not sure - don't eat it. Deli meats and hot dogs are also susceptible to the bacteria; however, if they are boiled until steamy hot the bacteria will be killed.

 

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