Nutrition Questions and Answers

Question: What compromises a healthy diet for expectant mothers?

Question: How important is nutrition in pregnancy?

Question: I am currently 71/2 months pregnant and I recently had feta cheese on a pizza I ordered.  I read later that day, that pregnant women are not to have feta cheese cause it can cause listerine.  How worried should I be and what are the consequences it could have on my baby.

Question: What compromises a healthy diet for expectant mothers?

Answer: Nutrition is a key link in growing a healthy baby, keeping yourself healthy during and after pregnancy as well as providing for an efficient, low risk birth. Good pregnancy nutrition should include:

Protein 4 servings
Whole grains and complex carbohydrates 4-6 servings
Vitamin C foods 2 servings
Calcium foods 4 servings
Dark green leafy veggies 2 servings
Yellow/orange veggies or fruits 1 serving
Other veggie or fruit 2 servings
Iron-rich foods some daily
High fat foods 2 servings
Fluids 6-8 glasses

(excerpted from The Natural Pregnancy Book)

Question: How important is nutrition in pregnancy?

Answer: The more we learn about the importance of nutrition in pregnancy, the more we realize how vital good nutrition is. Food is the building blocks of your baby, literally, and though your baby may seem to grow well despite a lack of good nutrition, the consequences can be devastating. Not enough protein, a common concern in our modern high-carbohydrate, high-fat eating habits can lead to Pregnancy Induced Hypertension, Pre-eclampsia, Eclampsia (toxemia) and even HELLP - a life-threatening condition where the mother's liver is shutting down. High sugar content often leads to Gestational Diabetes which is detrimental to both mother and baby's health. For more information on good nutrtion, visit www.blueribbonbaby.org

Question: I am currently 71/2 months pregnant and I recently had feta cheese on a pizza I ordered.  I read later that day, that pregnant women are not to have feta cheese cause it can cause listerine.  How worried should I be and what are the consequences it could have on my baby.

Answer: First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy! You are referring to Listeria monocytogenes which is a pathogenic (disease-causing) bacterium that is food- borne and causes an illness called listeriosis. Listeria survives at in temperatures from below freezing (20F) to body temperature and it grows best at OF to 50F, including the temperature range that we use for refrigeration. As a result, Listeria may be transmitted in ready-to-eat foods that have been kept properly refrigerated. However, since your feta was on a pizza, it was heated to a temperature which would kill the listeria bacteria. Thus there is no worry in your situation.

If you are still concerned, here are the symptoms. After ingestion of contaminated food, incubation periods for infection are in the range of 1 to 8 weeks, averaging about 31 days. Infected pregnant women will ordinarily experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth. The incidence of listeriosis in the newborn is 8.6 per 100,000 live births. There is no routine screening test for susceptibility to listeriosis during pregnancy, as there is for rubella and some other congenital infections. Newborns, rather than the pregnant women themselves, suffer the serious effects of infection in pregnancy.

Ready-to-eat foods provide a risk of transmitting Listeria, some more than others. The general recommendation for pregnant women is to avoid soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style cheese. (Hard cheese, processed cheeses, cream cheese, cottage cheese, or yogurt need not be avoided.) Cook leftover foods or ready-to-eat foods, such as hot dogs, until steaming hot before eating. Undercooked chicken has also been associated with listeriosis.  To make chicken safe from bacterial pathogens the thickest section (the center of the breast) should reach 165F. Recently, uncooked fish, whether smoked or not, has been identified as source of Listeria monocytogenes. Smoked trout, "gravad" fish, sushi, sashimi, and cerviche and such uncooked fish should also be avoided by individuals at risk. You can find more information at www.about-listeria.com.

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