Congratulations on your pregnancy! Food safety should be important to everyone, but as a pregnant women it is especially important for you to learn how to protect yourself and your unborn baby from foodborne illness.
When you become pregnant, your body naturally undergoes hormonal changes, some of which also change your immune system, making you more susceptible to contracting a foodborne illness. The immune system is the body’s natural reaction or response to “foreign invasion.”
Everyone is susceptible to contracting a foodborne illness. However, because your immune system changes during pregnancy, and your unborn child has an underdeveloped immune system, you and your unborn child are at risk for illnesses associated with Listeria monocytogenes and Toxoplasma gondii.
• Listeria monocytogenes is a harmful bacterium found in many foods. Listeria monocytogenes can lead to a disease called listeriosis. Listeriosis can cause miscarriage, premature delivery, serious sickness, or death of a newborn baby.
• Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite found is numerous food sources, as well as dirty cat litter boxes and other areas where cat feces can be found. Toxoplasmosis can cause hearing loss, mental retardation, and blindness.
The good news is that you can take special effort to select and prepare foods to prevent contracting these and other foodborne diseases. This guide is written especially for you to help show you how to protect yourself and your unborn baby from contracting a foodborne illness.
Make safe food handling a priority while pregnant – and make it a lifelong commitment to help protect you and your family from foodborne illness