Listeriosis and Pregnancy

You may have heard that eating certain foods can be dangerous to your pregnancy. In fact, listeriosis is an infection obtained from bacteria in some foods that can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, severe illness of the newborn or pregnant woman, or worse. Therefore, here are some guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for avoiding this infection:

  • Listeria is essentially food-poisoning and may cause flu-like symptoms: sudden onset of fever, chills, muscle aches, diarrhea or upset stomach, and sometimes headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions.
  • Antibiotics are effective in treating Listeriosis in the pregnant woman, and may help prevent transmission to her baby.
  • Listeria may rarely be found in raw hot dogs, luncheon meats, meat spreads, refrigerated smoked seafood (lox, jerky) and imported soft cheeses like feta, brie, Camembert, blue cheese, and Mexican queso. These cheeses and meat spreads should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Listeria may be found in any unpasteurized dairy product. Pasteurized dairy products may be eaten safely.
  • There is no evidence that Listeria can be transmitted through breast milk, but contact your pediatrician if you are breastfeeding and are diagnosed with Listeriosis.

For further information, please visit the CDC's Listeriosis Web site.