Patient & Visitor InformationContact Us
  • Pregnancy and High Risk Foods

  • hotdogBecause pregnant women are eating for two, they need to pay close attention to the foods they eat. After taking precautions about food preparation and storage, women who are expecting should be able to continue eating most of the foods they enjoy, with minor exceptions. Foods to look out for include:

    • Hot dogs, lunchmeats (pre-packaged or deli), refrigerated paté, meat spreads or smoked seafood. These foods may contain bacteria that cause a type of food poisoning called listeriosis. This food poisoning may result in serious complications during pregnancy. Hot dogs and lunchmeats may only be eaten after being heated until steaming. "They should be consumed in small amounts due to high nitrate, preservative, fat and sodium content," advises Amy Buban, RD, LDN, a dietitian at Rhode Island Hospital.
    • Rare or uncooked meat, poultry or fish. Cook all meat, poultry and fish thoroughly and never order rare meats when eating out. If possible, use a food thermometer to test the internal temperature of meat. Most meat should be cooked to a temperature of 180° F. For whole poultry, place the thermometer in the thigh.
    • Any products made with raw eggs. These include raw batter and eggnog, as well as homemade dressings, mayonnaise and ice cream. After dinner, mothers-to-be should also avoid mousse, meringue and tiramisu.
    • Raw sprouts such as alfalfa, clover and radish sprouts. Bacteria can infect the seeds from which these plants grow, meaning the sprouts cannot be cleaned or rid of bacteria. When dining out, pregnant women should make sure that their sandwiches or salads do not contain these sprouts.
    • Unpasteurized milk. Pregnant women should also avoid soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheese, Roquefort, feta and Mexican-style cheese such as "queso blanco fresco," unless those cheeses are clearly labeled "made with pasteurized milk." Another no-no for pregnant women: freshly squeezed juices from restaurants, as these are often unpasteurized as well.
    • Fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, bluefish and striped bass. These fish contain high levels of methyl mercury. Pregnant women should also avoid shellfish that is raw or undercooked and "should never consume sushi, sashimi, ceviche or tuna carpaccio," Buban warns. Fish such as salmon and cod are safe to eat. Pregnant women can safely eat up to twelve ounces of cooked fish per week, with a maximum of six ounces of albacore tuna during that week.
    • Alcoholic beverages. Alcohol intake may lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which causes facial abnormalities and mental retardation.

    After consultation with a doctor, most women should have no problem following a diet that they can enjoy while keeping themselves and their baby healthy.