August 20, 2014
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Family & Child

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Avoiding foodborne illness during pregnancy

One of the best things you can do for your baby, even before it's born, is to eat a nutritious diet. Eating a well-balanced diet including a wide variety of foods will ensure that both you and your baby get the nutrients you need.

You'll also want to be especially sure to cook your food thoroughly since during pregnancy you and your developing baby are more susceptible to foodborne illnesses. In addition to the regular effects of foodborne illness (vomiting and diarrhea), health complications, miscarriage, or premature birth may result.

If you contract a foodborne illness while pregnant, contact your doctor. You may be started on antibiotics to stave off the infection and prevent passing it to your developing baby.

The best course to take with foodborne illness is prevention. Wash your hands frequently: after using the bathroom, after being out in public, and before preparing food. Use separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables and clean the cutting boards well between uses. Use a meat thermometer during cooking to ensure that you've cooked food to appropriate temperatures. Promptly refrigerate leftovers and do not reheat them more than once. Your refrigerator should be set at or below 5°C (40°F).

Pregnant women are advised to avoid foods that typically cause foodborne illness, such as deli salads and refrigerated smoked seafood. Hot dogs and deli meats should only be eaten if they're heated well first. Avoid soft cheeses such as Camembert, Brie, and feta, since these are made using unpasteurized milk.

Marlene Veloso


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