Some foods contain harmful materials that you should know about to protect you and your family's health. If you become pregnant, these materials can cause serious illnesses and even death for you and the baby. Some can hinder the development of your baby's brain. If you could become pregnant, it is best to avoid certain foods.

The three main dangers in foods are:

  • Listeria – a bacterium that can be found in milk products and meat
  • Mercury – a metal found in high levels in some fish
  • Toxoplasma– a parasite that can be found in undercooked meat and unwashed fruits and vegetables
  • Undercooked fish and meat may also contain disease-causing bacteria and parasites.

Here is a list of foods that can be dangerous if you become pregnant:

  • raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish or shellfish (sushi or sashimi).
  • swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark
  • refrigerated smoked seafood like whitefish, salmon and mackerel. These products are usually labeled “Nova-style,” lox, kippered or jerky
  • refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads
  • hot dogs and luncheon meats—unless they’re reheated until steaming hot
  • soft cheeses like feta, brie, camembert, “blue-veined cheeses,” “queso blanco,” “queso fresco,” and Panela unless the label says they are pasteurized or made from pasteurized milk
  • raw or unpasteurized milk or cheeses, and foods that contain unpasteurized milk
  • unwashed fruits and vegetables

Some food containers also contain harmful materials and should be avoided:

  • plastic water bottles that have the number 7 stamped on their bottoms
  • canned food containers with whiter plastic lining on their insides

You can also protect yourself from Toxoplasmosis by using gloves when handling cat litter and while gardening.

Although some fish contain high levels of mercury, a small amount of some types of fish is good for your health. More information about eating fish before and during pregnancy...

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