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Almost every woman knows the basic of what they should and should not do during pregnancy.  They know that caffeine should be cut back; they should not smoke, drink alcohol or spend time in any hot tubs.  However more and more studies are being done to see if pregnant women should avoid certain foods for the duration of their pregnancy.    

It is essential that pregnant women eat a well balanced meal at all times to provide their growing baby with the vitamins, nutrients and minerals that the baby needs to grow.   There are some foods though that needs to be avoided due to the risk they pose to not just to the mother, but also to the growing baby.   

For starters, raw meat needs to be avoided due to the risk of toxoplasmosis and salmonella.  This means no more rare steaks, or rare burgers.  Pregnant women should take caution and make sure that all of the meat they eat is cooked well done.  Cold deli meat should also be avoided because of the risk of listeria.  Listeria can cross the placenta and can cause an infection or blood poisoning to the baby.  Keep in mind though that deli meat can be reheated until it is steaming and this will help reduce the risk.

Speaking of listeria there are other foods that can contain this bacteria.  Some soft cheeses such as brie, feta, and gorgonzola.  These cheeses are commonly made with unpasterized milk.  Unpasterized milk often contains listeria, so pregnant women need to make sure that any soft cheeses they are going to eat are made with pasteurized milk.  

Fish has always been a subject of debate for pregnant women. While some forms of fish contain essential nutrients that are needed by the baby, others contain a high level of mercury.  Any fish with a high level of mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and fish used in sushi should be avoided through out pregnancy.  Studies have linked mercury to developmental delays and in some cases brain damage. Tuna also contains a lot of mercury but canned, chunk light tuna has a lower amount of mercury and can be eaten in moderation. Raw shellfish also should be avoided through out pregnancy.  

Raw eggs or anything containing raw eggs is a no no during pregnancy.  There is a potential exposure to salmonella.  This means no raw cookie dough, no brownie mix, and some homemade sauces such as hollandaise, Caesar dressing and blue cheese dressing.  When dining in a restaurant, it would be wise to ask any sauces or dressings contain any raw eggs.  Most restaurants should be using pasteurized eggs in any raw egg recipe but one should still double check.

There has never been a more important time to be careful what a woman eats then when she is pregnant.  Some of the above foods have been linked to miscarriages and other birth defects. If you are pregnant and you have already indulged in a few of the foods you should not have, do not panic. Chances are, you and your baby are fine but take extra care to avoid these foods in the future.

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