Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy... And The Reasons Why

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Submitting to cravings and indulging without guilt are two luxuries of pregnancy that many women take full advantage of. And while no one wants to take that joy away, there are some instances when mommy just needs to say no… for her sake and the sake of her unborn child.

Although the foods to avoid during pregnancy may be commonly eaten at other times, when a woman is a mother-to-be, these items pose special risks. The US government’s Food Safety gateway explains this saying, “because pregnancy affects your immune system, you and your unborn baby are more susceptible to the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause food borne illness.


Expecting mothers need to be particularly aware of the foods that may be contaminated with this bacteria. “Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection and blood poisoning,” warns the American Pregnancy Association.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that listeriosis, which is the disease that develops from listeria, can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, still birth, or serious health problems for the baby. Making this disease more dangerous is the fact that expecting mothers may not display any symptoms.

To avoid these risks, pregnant women are advised to avoid:

  • cold deli meats or hot dogs and the fluids from these items
  • soft imported cheeses such as Feta, Gorgonzola, Brie, and queso blanco fresco unless their packages specifically state that they are made with pasteurized milk
  • unpasteurized milk
  • refrigerated smoked seafood which is not cooked into a prepared dish
  • refrigerated pate or meat spreads.


Salmonellosis, the infection which results from salmonella, can be life-threatening for mothers and unborn babies, warns the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). To aggravate matters, salmonella is the leading cause of food borne illnesses.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy to prevent salmonellosis include:

  • raw eggs
  • raw and partially cooked seafood
  • unwashed fruits and vegetables
  • raw cookie dough and cake batter
  • raw sprouts


Foods are not the only items that can pose risks during pregnancy. Consuming certain beverages can also harm an unborn child. Mayo Clinic warns that herbal tea should be avoided, even if it is specifically marketed for pregnant women, unless it is approved by a doctor. “There’s little data on the effects of specific herbs on developing babies,” Mayo Clinic says. “And large amounts of some herbal teas, such as red raspberry leaf, may cause contractions.”

While for some it may seem obvious to note that alcohol consumption should be avoided during pregnancy, the CDC says about 1 in 8 pregnant women drink alcohol. This may partially be due to mixed messages. There are some sources that claim that limited amounts of alcohol are unlikely to harm an unborn child.

To clarify this issue, the CDC notes that there is no amount of alcohol or type of alcoholic beverage that is known to be safe for consumption by pregnant women. Drinking alcohol increases risks of miscarriage and stillbirth. It also presents risks of facial deformities, slow development, low birth weight, and mental retardation.


  • The American Pregnancy Association: Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

  • Mayo Clinic: Pregnancy nutrition: Foods to avoid during pregnancy

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Listeriosis (Listeria) and Pregnancy

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

  • United States Department of Agriculture: Foodborne Illness and Disease