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Foods to Avoid in Pregnancy

Fish At Risk of Mercury Contamination

Fish is an important part of a healthy diet. However, women who are pregnant should avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tile fish. These fish can contain excessive levels of mercury that may harm an unborn child’s or baby’s brain or nervous system, resulting in developmental delays such as delays in learning to walk or talk.

Fish At Risk of Contamination by Chemicals

Some fish can contain high levels of an industrial pollutant called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in their fatty tissues. Examples include: bluefish and striped bass, as well as freshwater fish such as salmon, pike, trout, walleye from contaminated lakes and rivers. According to experts, consumption of large amounts of PCBs by pregnant women is linked to decreased attention, memory, and IQ in their babies. The best approach is to contact your local Health Department to determine which fish in your area are safe to eat.

Foods At Risk of Contamination by Listeriosis Bacteria

Listeriosis is an illness caused by bacteria found in certain foods. The foods most likely to have the listeriosis bacteria are unpasteurized milk, soft cheese, raw vegetables and shellfish. Also, wash all fresh fruit and vegetables before eating. Warning: the typical symptoms of listeriosis are similar to flu symptoms. So, if you develop a fever or flu-like illness when pregnant, ask for samples from your vagina, cervix and blood to be checked.

Foods At Risk of Contamination by Other Bacteria

Raw meat such as sushi, seafood, rare or uncooked beef or poultry may be contaminated by coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. Other salmonella-containing foods may include: raw eggs, or foods made from raw egg such as Caesar dressing, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream or custard, mousse and tiramisu, or Hollandaise sauce.

Other Foods to Avoid

For optimum health during pregnancy, it is best to avoid the following foods and drinks.

Alcohol
No level of alcohol consumption is considered safe during pregnancy.

Caffeine
If you can, it’s wise to avoid caffeine completely. High caffeine intake has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage.

Herbal Supplements

Check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter herbal supplements, as some of these can be harmful to your baby.

Medications and Drugs

For the health of your pregnancy and the safety of your baby, always check with your doctor about which drugs are safe to take when pregnant.

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