Pregnancy is one of the vital phases of a woman’s life during which hormonal changes such as increased progesterone levels downregulate immune function to prevent the death of the fetus. These hormonal changes make pregnant women vulnerable to food-borne illnesses by microbial pathogens (Listeria monocytogenes, Toxoplasma gondii, Salmonella, and others) and chemical contaminants (methyl mercury from seafood). Subsequent illnesses may lead to serious health consequences such as miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or serious infection of the newborn, neonatal sepsis, chorioamnionitis, meningitis, mental retardation, and harsh neurological effects for the fetus, mother, and/or the newborn.
Improper handling of food in the kitchen and at the grocery store is considered as one of the major causes for a large number of food-borne illnesses in pregnant women. Combining the four well-known steps to food safety (clean, separate, cook, and chill) with avoiding high-risk foods will minimize the risk of food-borne disease. Educating consumers on various aspects such as health, hygiene, sanitation, and handling high-risk foods for immunocompromised individuals plays an important role in reducing food safety risk during pregnancy.
High risk foods Listeriosis Salmonellosis Safe food handling Food-borne illness Food safety during pregnancy
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