Special care has to be taken in the choice of food by a pregnant lady for her own safety and that of her unborn child. Most of the time hygiene is the only concern but many animal products harbour dangerous bacteria and must be avoided, especially if they are not properly cooked. List of unsafe foods during pregnancy are:
- Chicken eggs and meat carry bacteria called salmonella so do not consume raw eggs or food stuff which contains raw eggs. Chicken liver can be infected with salmonella so do not eat it. All cooking utensils, knives, ladles and cutting board exposed to raw chicken and raw eggs must be washed thoroughly. Salmonella causes severe diarrhoea and it can cause a miscarriage.
- Raw meat like sushi should not be eaten at all. It can have E-coli and toxoplasmosis, a parasite. Both can cause severe infection in both mother and baby. Also to be avoided are undercooked meats like smoked meats. Partial cooking does not destroy bacteria and they attack the host once they are ingested.
- Sea food such as shell fish and shark, and other fish like tuna contain high levels of mercury. Some fish are exposed to industrial pollutants as they are sometimes disposed off into rivers. These factors can cause damage to nerves and brain of the growing foetus.
- Milk and milk products can also be contaminated so drink only pasteurised milk and use products made from pasteurised milk. Untreated milk and cheeses, especially soft cheeses, can contain bacteria named listeria. In adults it produces only flu like symptoms but it can travel through the placenta and infect the foetus. This can cause blood poisoning, miscarriage or premature birth.
Unsafe vegetarian foods for pregnant women to be avoided are:
- In early pregnancy papaya, especially if it is raw, can cause bleeding to an enzyme it contains. To be on the safe side eat other fruit, leaving out papaya.
- Totally abstain from alcohol. Children of mothers who drink suffer from abnormalities and behavioural problems. Even beverages with partial alcohol content should be avoided.
- The intake of coffee and tea and other caffeine containing beverages like soda should be restricted. Too much caffeine may induce miscarriage. Caffeine reduces the absorption of iron so mothers who drink a lot of coffee have less healthy children whose weight is below normal.
- All vegetables should be washed properly especially those used in salad which are eaten raw as they have toxoplasmosis.
It is best not to take any risk and wait till the child is born before consuming these foods, even if you are very fond of them.