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Does Listeria Affect Unborn Babies? There Are Still A Few Ways To Keep Them Safe

The Kroger Co. announced another food recall on Tuesday to add to the ever-growing list. This time around the grocery chain recalled Simple Truth Organic Mixed Vegetables due to supplier concerns of listeria. While CRF Frozen Foods continues to announce voluntary recalls of various products (the recall has now expanded to their entire frozen fruit and vegetable line) over listeria concerns, customers are trying to educate themselves about the nature of listeria and the infection it causes, listeriosis. Pregnant women who want to know if listeria affects unborn babies should take special note, because the disease can be fatal.

Older adults, babies, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems in general are at a higher risk than most when it comes to getting listeriosis. While the Centers for Disease Control reports that listeria is still a rare occurrence, even in pregnant women (who are 20 times more likely to become infected), with the long list of listeria-related recalls coming from CRF Frozen Foods, pregnant customers are understandably worried for their babies. The unfortunate news is that, if a pregnant woman has been infected with the listeria bacteria, she is at a much higher risk of:

  • miscarriage
  • premature delivery
  • infection spreading to the newborn baby
  • death (about 22 percent of cases of perinatal listeria infection have resulted in stillbirth or neonatal death)

Vigilance is key, as is staying up-to-date on the latest list of recalls. For the most recent list of products that have been recalled, visit the Food and Drug Administration website.

Beyond staying abreast of the recall list, has a few recommendations for soon-to-be moms. The organization recommends eating hard cheese rather than soft cheese; being very cautious about hot dog and luncheon meat consumption; and avoiding pates, meat spreads, and smoked seafood products. Keep your refrigerator clean and cold (40 degrees or below), wash all fruits and vegetables, and avoid cross contamination of foods.

If a pregnant woman is worried that she may have been infected with listeria, she should know the symptoms to watch for:

  • headache
  • muscle ache
  • flu-like symptoms
  • nausea
  • fever
  • stiff neck
  • disorientation
  • convulsions

While pregnant women are always at a higher risk for infection, listeria is especially dangerous if contracted in the third trimester. A blood test can confirm infection and, if caught on time, can be treated with antibiotics.

Pregnancy can feel like a terrifying stage of life at the best of time, and adding very real listeria fears into the mix can seem overwhelming. But if pregnant women follow a few rules of safety, pay close attention to recall lists and handle their food properly, they will be able to keep their babies safe. And isn't that what it's all about?