By Cari Nierenberg – Live Science Contributor January 10, 2018
Scientific Editor: Rand Kittani
Link to original article: https://www.livescience.com/45090-pregnancy-diet.html
Woman’ diet during pregnancy is critical for the baby’s health and development. The pregnant mother’s diet should include a variety of healthy foods such as vegetables, proteins and supplements to provide the important nutrients a baby needs for growth and development. Other foods and beverages should be limited or avoided and below are some examples.
Foods to limit
Consuming fewer than 200 mg of caffeine a day, which is the amount found in one 12-ounce cup of coffee, is generally considered safe during pregnancy, according to a 2010 ACOG committee opinion, which was reaffirmed in 2013. The committee report said moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy does not appear to contribute to miscarriage or premature birth.
Fish is a good source of lean protein, and some fish, including salmon and sardines, also contain omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat that’s good for the heart. It is safe for pregnant women to eat 8 to 12 ounces of cooked fish and seafood a week, according to ACOG. However, they should limit albacore or “white” tuna, which has high levels of mercury, to no more than 6 ounces a week, according to ACOG. Mercury is a metal that can be harmful to a baby’s developing brain. Canned light tuna has less mercury than albacore “white” tuna and is safer to eat during pregnancy.
Foods to avoid
Avoid alcohol during pregnancy, Krieger advised. Alcohol in the mother’s blood can pass directly to the baby through the umbilical cord. Heavy use of alcohol during pregnancy has been linked with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, a group of conditions that can include physical problems, as well as learning and behavioral difficulties in babies and children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Fish with high levels of mercury:
Seafood such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy and tilefish are high in levels of methyl mercury, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and should be avoided during pregnancy. Methyl mercury is a toxic chemical that can pass through the placenta and can be harmful to an unborn baby’s developing brain, kidneys and nervous system.
According to the USDA, pregnant women are at high risk for getting sick from two different types of food poisoning: listeriosis, caused by the Listeria bacteria, and toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite.
The CDC says that Listeria infection may cause miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm labor, and illness or death in newborns. To avoid listeriosis, the USDA recommends avoiding the following foods during pregnancy:
- Unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods made from it, such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, queso blanco and queso fresco. Pasteurization involves heating a product to a high temperature to kill harmful bacteria.
- Hot dogs, luncheon meats and cold cuts unless heated to steaming hot before eating to kill any bacteria.
- Store-bought deli salads, such as ham salad, chicken salad, tuna salad and seafood salad.
- Unpasteurized refrigerated meat spreads or pates.
A mother can pass a Toxoplasma infection on to her baby, which can cause problems such as blindness and mental disability later in life, reports the CDC. To prevent toxoplasmosis, the USDA recommends avoiding the following foods during pregnancy:
- Rare, raw or undercooked meats and poultry.
- Raw fish, such as sushi, sashimi, ceviches and carpaccio.
- Raw and undercooked shellfish, such as clams, mussels, oysters and scallops.
Some foods may increase a pregnant woman’s risk for other types of food poisoning, including illness caused by salmonella and E. coli bacteria. Foodsafety.gov lists these foods to avoid during pregnancy, and why they pose a threat:
- Raw or undercooked eggs, such as soft-cooked, runny or poached eggs.
- Foods containing undercooked eggs, such as raw cookie dough or cake batter, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, homemade ice cream, homemade eggnog, Hollandaise sauce.
- Raw or undercooked sprouts, such as alfalfa, clover.
- Unpasteurized juice or cider.