Eating Safely for Two: Preventing Foodborne Illness During Pregnancy

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While foodborne illnesses can and have affected all types of people from young celebrities like Selena Gomez and Kylie Jenner to athletes like Serena Williams, women are most susceptible to  foodborne illnesses when they are pregnant. This is particularly dangerous because it not only harms the mother, but her unborn child as well.

One of the reasons pregnant women are at higher could be due to the fact that the mother experiences changes in her hormones and immune systems. This isn’t just a stomach bug that will pass, however. Once acquiring a foodborne illness, the effects can cause many different forms of birth defects or complications during birth. In some cases, the illness can even be lethal to the unborn child

The non-profit organization, Stop Foodborne Illness, has provided guidelines to help pregnant women protect themselves and their children. They have stated that women should avoid certain foods during pregnancy such as:

  • Any unpasteurized milk or milk products.
  • Raw fish or shellfish, including but not limited to oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, smoked seafood and meat spreads.
  • Any products containing raw or even lightly cooked eggs.
  • Raw or rare cooked meats.
  • Prepackaged salads such as potato, pasta, ham or tuna.
  • Raw sprouts of all kinds
  • Unpasteurized fruit or vegetable juices
  • Unwashed produce

The non-profit has also expressed the significance of ensuring that all foods have been cleaned or thoroughly washed with drinkable water. Almost all meat products and any leftovers should be cooked or reheated to the point of steaming. Otherwise, it will not be safe for mothers to consume, and they should avoid eating it altogether.

According to Stop Foodborne Illness, when preparing meals or eating out mothers should wash their hands often and for at least 20 seconds. The organization also said that women should limit the use of antacids, not cross contaminate and clean surfaces often, avoid places that seem unsanitary when dining out, and visit your state’s public health website.

The symptoms of foodborne illnesses are quite similar to those of a normal pregnancy which leads many pregnant women to be unaware of their condition, whereas those who are not pregnant could more easily identify the illness quickly.

The non-profit organization has provided symptoms to look out for besides the obvious morning sickness or even a mild flu. These symptoms can lead to a more dire situation, which is why  Stop Foodborne Illness stresses the importance of pregnant women contacting their doctor immediately. These symptoms could take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to appear after eating the food which caused them.

Common symptoms to look out for include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Neck ache
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Lymph node enlargement

Stop Foodborne Illness advocates for food safety and educates the country on minimizing the risks associated with foodborne illnesses. They have emphasized the importance of continued food safety knowledge and education about foodborne illnesses for everyone. The organization has also outlined further advice and tips for pregnant mothers and eating safely on their website, stopfoodborneillness.org.


Courtesy of Stop Foodborne Illness

Caroline Riggs

I love to write, read poetry, and listen to political podcasts. I enjoy time with my dogs, traveling and practicing my languages. Spreading the truth and sharing the news are my two goals as I enter this career path of communications.

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