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Food safety advice tends to vary over time - some foods deemed unsafe to eat at one time may become positively beneficial at others, but there is always advice on some foods that should be avoided during pregnancy. Mostly such foods suffer increased exposure to dangerous bacteria, and if not stored properly between manufacture and consumption, they could pose a serious health risk to a pregnant mum to be.
Until August 2009, government advised that pregnant women should avoid peanuts for fear that consumption might be a cause of intolerance in children. This advice has changed now because science is not certain that this is a causal effect of allergies, indeed there is growing evidence that consumption of peanuts during pregnancy may actually reduce the likelihood of babies suffering peanut allergies.
Some foods such as soft cheeses and pâté should be avoided because there is an increased risk that they may carry listeria, a very dangerous bacteria to pregnant women. Pâté also contains high levels of vitamin A, a vitamin found in liver, which is also best avoided during pregnancy. High levels of vitamin A may have a negative impact on your baby's neurological development. For the same reason, you should avoid taking fish liver oils and eating liver in any other form.
Pregnant women should also be cautious against eating raw or undercooked foods, especially eggs, meats and shellfish. These all pose a higher risk to bacteria and viruses, such as salmonella.
Finally, certain sea fish may contain harmful levels of mercury to an unborn baby - avoid tuna, shark, swordfish and marlin whilst pregnant. High levels of mercury can affect neurological development in your baby.
Many other foods often considered dangerous actually pose no risk at all, these include:-
- Processed (rather than homemade) mayonnaise and salad dressings will be made from pasteurised eggs
- Hard and increasing numbers of soft cheeses are also made with pastuerised milk nowadays
- Yoghurts and probiotic drinks are also made from pasteurised milk
- Spicy foods pose no danger to unborn children
- Honey is suitable for pregnant women but shouldn't be given to babies under 1 year
- Ice cream is also made from pasteurised milk and poses no risk to pregnant women
If you are pregnant, you will be looking after yourself and paying more attention to diet than usual, but most foods are perfectly safe to consume, you don't have to change your diet radically just because you're expecting a baby. Exercise caution, but don't stifle your lifestyle!