Protection from infection
Avoiding infections during pregnancy is important for your health and for protecting the well-being of your unborn baby. Some infections can be prevented by taking simple steps to make your environment and your food safe.
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a single-celled parasite named Toxoplasma gondii. While the infection in adults causes flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph glands, or muscle aches and pains that last for a few days to several weeks, babies who became infected before birth can have serious mental or physical problems. The organism can be transmitted by eating raw meat, by handling litter boxes with cat feces containing the parasite, or by outdoor gardening in contaminated soil.
Listeriosis is a food-borne illness transmitted by bacteria in contaminated food. The listeria organism has been found in a variety of raw foods, such as uncooked meats and vegetables, as well as in processed foods that become contaminated after processing, such as soft cheeses and cold cuts at the deli counter. Unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk may contain listeria. Symptoms are flu-like, with fever, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. When contracted during pregnancy, listeriosis may cause infection in the amniotic membranes leading to miscarriage, stillbirth, or severe infection in a newborn.
Food poisoning is a risk for all people, but in pregnancy, it can lead to dehydration in the mother and may deprive your unborn baby of nourishment. In addition, maternal food poisoning can cause serious illness in the fetus. Escherichia coli O157:H7 (a specific type of E. coli) can cause food poisoning that leads to bloody diarrhea and possible kidney failure. Illness can occur after eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef, drinking raw milk, or after swimming in or drinking contaminated water. Although alfalfa sprouts are often considered a "health food," the warm, humid conditions needed to grow sprouts from seeds are also ideal for bacteria, such as E. coli, to flourish.
Stay healthy and avoid these potential illnesses with the following recommendations:
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