The truth is, most of us are exposed to agents that can cause food poisoning each day. Yet, we sometimes feel no ill effects at all. But if an expectant mother is afflicted with food poisoning, pregnancy might be in danger because there is another more vulnerable person involved- the baby. The overall health of the mother, the baby’s gestational age, antibody condition and other uterine factors can help the unborn child weather the effects of food poisoning.
Pregnancy entails moms to maintain a well-balanced and nutritious diet to keep herself and her baby healthy. Food borne diseases picked up from restaurants or inside the house can cause mild gastrointestinal irritation and in many cases do not have any adverse effects on the mother and her baby. But there are serious bacterial infections that can put the mother’s health at risk and can possibly be transmitted to the baby.
Food poisoning during pregnancy can cause health complications to the unborn child. The baby might have diarrhea, fever, and even meningitis after birth. Many cases of food poisoning are caused by certain strains of Escherichia coli ( E. coli), salmonella or listeria bacteria. E. coli bacteria could get into your food because of improper food preparation, through refrigerated foods which are not stored at the proper room temperature or from left over foods that are not reheated properly. Salmonella usually wells up in chicken, peanuts, salsa, tomatoes and raw foods. Infections caused by campylobacteriosis and salmonella bacteria can cause stillbirth.
Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium which is present in soil and water can cause Listeriosis. It is a bacterial infection that causes bloody or non-bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps and in some cases, fever. It is worth noting that the symptoms of this infection are similar to many other diseases and can be acquired from contaminated drinking water and other sources. The bacteria can also be found in cold cuts, vegetables, dairy products and in processed foods like soft cheeses. Even though the bacteria do not pose a significant threat to a healthy person, listeria infection in an expecting mother can cause premature birth, grave infection of the infant or worse, stillbirth.
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection caused by Toxoplasma gondii. The bacteria can travel if a pregnant woman unconsciously puts her hand to her mouth after gardening or if she touches cat feces when cleaning a litter box and other contaminated surfaces. From the mother, the bacteria can be transmitted to her fetus. Toxoplasmosis can result in birth defects, miscarriage or stillbirth. A pregnant woman with toxoplasmosis might have sore muscles or swollen lymph glands that last for several days or weeks. Often times, toxoplasmosis comes with flu-like symptoms or does show any symptoms at all.
Expecting moms need to take additional safety measures when buying and preparing their meals. In the event of food poisoning, pregnancy is placed at great risk because some types of food borne diseases can endanger the baby. Therefore, it is critical that pregnant women defend themselves and their babies from food poisoning with some suggestions below.
Tips on How To Prevent Food Poisoning
Do not buy food products that have torn or damaged packaging.
Handle meats, milk, milk products, fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry and other perishable items with extra care.
Stay clear of unpasteurized milk and other foods made from it.
Be sure to keep foods like meat and dairy products refrigerated.
Always make sure that your hands are clean when preparing and handling foods.
Wash fruits and raw vegetables.
Avoid serving meals that contain raw eggs. Use pasteurized eggs or egg substitutes instead if you really need to.
Cook seafood and meats thoroughly. The meat should turn entirely brown or gray when cooked and not pink.
It is always better to serve the food as soon as it is cooked.
Be careful when eating ready to eat foods. Generally, ready to eat foods have low risk of carrying harmful bacteria when stored properly. Check the packaging for cooking and storing instructions.
Choose the most ideal way to reheat left-over foods properly. For instance, small servings of soups and sauces can be reheated using a microwave oven while pizzas, roasts and large portions of casseroles are ideally reheated in the oven at 350°.
Eat only fresh cooked foods when you travel. Sometimes the food may look and smell ok but is no longer safe to eat. Do not eat it anymore if you are in doubt.
How to Treat Food Poisoning in Pregnant Women
A remarkable thing about the human body is it has several lines of defense to protect itself once it recognizes a threat. Although antibodies will ward off agents of food poisoning, pregnancy can make a woman more susceptible to illnesses than other people. Treatment of food poisoning in pregnant women usually involves drinking a lot of fluids to replenish lost fluids and avoid dehydration which is not good for the pregnant mother. Antibiotics might be given and an IV might be placed depending on the gravity of food poisoning. The patient should also take some rest and oral rehydration medicine if needed. Oral rehydration powder has electrolytes which the body needs to function every day. Pregnant women should seek medical care if they suspect food poisoning given that some types of infection are hazardous to the mother’s health and can be transferred to the fetus. Call a medical expert immediately so you can start your medication and avoid any complication.
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