This is a guest post by medical student Deepthi Lankalapalli on how to avoid food-borne illness during pregnancy to keep yourself and your baby safe.
When you are pregnant your immune system deteriorates and makes you more vulnerable to illnesses. Your baby’s immunity is not yet completely built either. It is very important to protect yourself and your baby from harmful food-borne bacteria and viruses. Follow these simple rules and you can stay away from serious health problems.
1. The first step is to maintain a clean personal hygiene. Wash your hands frequently!!
2. Keeping your kitchen sanitized is the key. Thoroughly clean all surfaces, dishes, and utensils with soap and hot water especially after storing and cooking raw meat or poultry. Clean countertops with diluted liquid chlorine bleach and water every few days.
3. Store fresh fruits and vegetables separately from any kind of meat.
4. As much as you love your steak to be served rare or medium rare, it’s time to give it up! All meat, fish, and poultry must be completely cooked. Do not eat refrigerated pâté or meat spreads because they can contain high levels of bacteria.
5. Always make sure that milk and fruit juices are pasteurized.
6. Avoid ordering swordfish, tile-fish, and king mackerel as they contain very high levels of mercury. Salmon, catfish, and shrimp tend to have low levels and are perfectly okay in small amount occasionally. Mercury is a metal that is easily absorbed by your body. It has been shown to decrease performance in memory and language when children are exposed as fetuses.
7. Raw sprouts like radish, Brussels sprouts, and clover sound so healthy! But, did you know that bacteria can easily enter sprouts before they are grown and are almost impossible to wash out. Always request for raw sprouts to not be added in your food.
Symptoms of food-borne illness causes by bacteria or viruses include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, chills and muscle aches. Signs of a more serious infection include headache, stiff-neck, loss of balance or seizures. If you suspect you have a food-borne illness, please see your doctor immediately or go to the nearest emergency room.
As hard as it sounds to stay safe, it will all be worth it when you see your healthy baby. Follow these simple tips on how to avoid food-borne illness and you and your baby will be safer during your pregnancy.