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Pregnancy, dangers of eating recommended products

  1. During pregnancy there are a number of products that should not be eaten, as they may be harmful to the unborn child. For many it is not clear exactly which products fall under this exactly and it may therefore happen that people eat something that is actually not recommended. Many pregnant women will be very concerned, but just how serious is it to eat something off the banned list? And what are the chances that it will actually have harmful consequences for the child?

Dangers during pregnancy

  1. Women are more susceptible to contracting a foodborne infection during pregnancy, because the resistance is lower due to a changed hormone balance. This is why it is recommended to pay extra attention to eating certain products during pregnancy. These are in particular the products that have an increased risk of contamination with Listeria or Toxoplasma. In addition, it is recommended to leave certain products in place because of a (suspected) bad influence on the unborn baby. These mainly consist of products with a high content of vitamin A, caffeine or certain herbs that contain safrole, estragole or methyl eugenol. In addition, the intake of alcohol and certain herbal preparations is also not recommended.


  1. Listeriosis can be contracted by eating foods contaminated with Listeria. Only large amounts of bacteria will survive the stomach acid and can lead to Listeriosis. The special thing about Listeria is that the bacteria can infect the fetus via the placenta. This makes Listeria extra dangerous for pregnant women.

Risk products

  1. Listeria is mainly found in unheated products. Listeria, unlike most other bacteria, can grow at refrigerator temperature. Because the bacterium has little competition from other bacteria at these low temperatures, it grows relatively quickly to large quantities in cool stored products. For pregnant women, therefore, they should not eat products that have been in the refrigerator for some time. Risk products are:


  1. An infection normally produces mild symptoms, but in pregnant women the consequences can be serious. Listeriosis during pregnancy can have serious consequences, such as a miscarriage, premature birth or septicemia or meningitis in the baby.

Chance of infection

  1. Every year, about 40 to 60 Dutch people contract an infection. This equates to a probability of approximately 0.0003 percent. Pregnant ones are about 20 percent more likely to contract Listeriosis because the resistance is less due to changed hormone levels. Yet an estimated 0.0025 percent of all pregnant women contract an infection. Even though the risk of infection is very small, the serious consequences make it better to avoid risk products during pregnancy. If the unborn baby becomes infected, there is a 20 to 35 percent chance that it will die.

What to do in the event of a possible infection

  1. If a risk product has been eaten during pregnancy, such as smoked salmon, no further action is taken. The chance that the product was actually contaminated with Listeria is very small. It is only advisable to consult a doctor if there are any signs of disease. It is possible to discover through a blood culture whether there is Listeriosis. The infection can be treated with antibiotics at an early stage.


  1. Toxoplasmosis can be contracted by an infection with the parasite Toxoplasma Gondii. The parasite occurs in soil that is contaminated with the faeces of cats that carry the parasite. Warm-blooded animals, vegetables and fruits can also be contaminated through this soil and thus transmit Toxoplasma. The parasite is killed by heating at a minimum of 70 degrees Celsius.

Risk products

  1. Products that have been in contact with contaminated earth or water may be contaminated. Meat from warm-blooded animals can also contain the parasite. Risk products are:


  1. The consequences of Toxoplasmosis can be serious. Especially at the beginning of pregnancy, serious symptoms such as hydrocephalus, mental retardation, brain disorders, eye disorders, deafness or even a miscarriage. An infection at the end of pregnancy can cause milder symptoms such as fever, rash, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, or eye infections. Even later in life, children who became infected with Toxoplasma during pregnancy may still experience symptoms such as eye abnormalities or deafness.

Chance of infection

  1. The risk of Toxoplasmosis is nil for people who have already been infected. These people have built up antibodies. This is a different story persons who are not yet infected. Most people have been found to be infected between the ages of 25 and 44. Because many women in this age category become pregnant, the chance that you will not be infected during pregnancy is about 60 percent. Once you have contracted toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, the risk of infection of the fetus in the early stages of pregnancy is small. At a gestational age of 10 weeks, the chance is about six percent. However, at the end of the pregnancy, the risk of infection of the fetus via the mother is considerably higher, at a gestation period of 38 weeks it has already increased to more than eighty percent. On the other hand, an infection at the end of a pregnancy does not result in any symptoms in half of the cases.

Other hazards

  1. Besides the dangers for Listeria and Toxoplasma, there are also a number of products that can (possibly) be dangerous for the baby during pregnancy. These are in particular products that contain a lot of vitamin A, products that contain caffeine, alcohol or nicotine, or certain herbs or herbal preparations.

Risk products

  1. The main risk products are:

Risk of harmful consequences

  1. The consequences of eating or drinking such risk products are often unpredictable. For example, in women who are sensitive to it, drinking alcohol can already be harmful in small amounts, while in women who are better against alcohol, harmful effects can only occur with large amounts. For vitamin A, caffeine and certain herbs, harmful effects only occur if you consume them in large quantities. A portion of 70 grams of liver sausage contains more than the maximum safe amount of vitamin A, which can be harmful to the unborn baby. Smaller portions are safe during pregnancy. For herbs and caffeine, people do not know what the harmful amounts are. Small quantities are believed to be harmless, such as one cup of coffee per day.

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