Dec 17, 2014 8:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

Along with the holidays come endless parties to attend. While you know to avoid alcohol during pregnancy, there’s another big danger to you and your unborn baby this time of year: Buffet tables. 

“During pregnancy, a woman’s immune system is weakened. This leaves both mom and baby more susceptible to food poisoning,” says Tiffany Weber, MD, an OB/GYN at University of Utah Health.

Pregnant women are at higher risk for these three foodborne illnesses: listeria, methylmercury and toxoplasmosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women are 10 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeria, a harmful bacteria found in unpasteurized milk products and ready-to-eat foods.

Methylmercury is a metal found in certain fish including swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish. Toxoplasmosis is an illness caused by eating undercooked meat and unwashed fruits and vegetables.

These foodborne illnesses can make mom sick and affect baby’s development. “But the good news is that you can prevent these illnesses by carefully preparing foods, avoiding cross-contamination of foods, and swapping dangerous foods with safer options,” Weber says.

While you can control how food is prepared and served at home, it’s difficult to determine what’s safe at holiday parties. Download this checklist to help guide you through the dangerous zones and learn some safer options.

“And remember to wash your hands more often than usual, get plenty of rest and don’t overdo it,” Weber says. “You don’t have to attend every party to have a wonderful holiday season.” 

pregnancy food poisoning

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