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Food Poisoning in Pregnancy: Complications & Tips To Prevent Food Poisoning in Pregnancy

Healthy eating and food handling habits have gained importance owing to the increased risk of food poisoning. Food poisoning in pregnancy is a major concern as it can cause trouble for the mother as well as the growing fetus. It needs to be identified in time and treated appropriately to avoid complications. Let us understand more about food poisoning in pregnancy and tips to prevent poisoning in pregnancy.

Food Poisoning in Pregnancy

Food Poisoning in Pregnancy

Food poisoning is a condition that causes infection due to consumption of contaminated food. Such food items cause infection due to the presence of virus, bacteria or toxin which subsequently opens the floodgate to a series of negative reactions in our body. It is usually accompanied with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Like in other cases, food poisoning in pregnancy too can be caused by Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli bacteria.

While food poisoning can affect anyone, food poisoning in pregnancy is also a common occurrence. Given the rapid changes in blood circulation and metabolism, food poisoning in pregnancy becomes more common. Pregnancy alters the immunity system of ladies making them much more vulnerable to food borne illnesses. A considerable share of your energy is diverted towards keeping the fetus healthy and the hormone changes increase the risk of food poisoning in pregnancy. Thus, it is of prime importance for pregnant women to be careful about their food habits for a healthy pregnancy.

Food poisoning in pregnancy can be more bothersome as it increases the risk of dehydration due to loss of fluids, worsening of nausea and vomiting with additional gastric complaints and increased anxiety or stress. Fever, fatigue, headache, abdominal pain or bloody stool can cause great discomfort, when immediate medical help must be sought.

Possible Complications of Food Poisoning in Pregnancy

Food poisoning in pregnancy can be unsafe due to some of the possible complications given below.

Poor Neurological Growth of Fetus – Food poisoning in pregnancy can be dangerous for the neurological growth of the baby, particularly infections caused due to Listeria.

Infection of Bloodstream – Salmonella infections causing food poisoning in pregnancy, can be related to reactive arthritis, meningitis and bacteremia (infection spreading to the bloodstream)

Kidney Damage – E.coli bacteria can lead to kidney failure or blood vessel lining damage. This can lead to bloody stools, which are also the early detection symptoms of food poisoning in pregnancy.

Miscarriage or Still Birth – Although rare, food poisoning in pregnancy can also cause miscarriage or stillbirth in extreme cases.

Tips to Prevent Food Poisoning in Pregnancy

Given such level of associated risks, it is imperative to take complete precaution regarding what you are gobbling down during those nine months. Here are some effective tips to prevent food poisoning in pregnancy.

Healthy Eating Habit – What you eat during pregnancy has a direct effect on your fetus. It is advisable to adopt healthy eating habits, particularly during pregnancy. Avoid raw and have fresh, well- cooked food to prevent food poisoning in pregnancy.

Avoid Roadside Food – Follow the instructions given by your doctor in terms of food preparation to avoid falling sick. Also stay away from the roadside or junk food to prevent consuming contaminated food. For any special cravings, prepare food at home and consume, when fresh to prevent food poisoning in pregnancy.

Food Preparation – Since the greatest harm is done during the food preparation stage, take special care with food handling and preparation to prevent food poisoning in pregnancy.

  • Keep note of expiration dates.
  • Keep ready-to eat foods in a separate chamber and away from raw foods.
  • Maintain safe storage of perishable items.
  • Don’t forget to wash fruits and vegetables by soaking them in lukewarm water before consumption.
  • Raw meat needs to be cooked thoroughly to flush away all harmful bacteria’s. If required, make use of a meat thermometer.
  • Stay away from unpasteurized or raw diary.
  • Avoid packaged meat as much as possible.
  • For retaining maximum freshness store food items in the refrigerator.

Rather than taking food items out from the refrigerator and letting them come back to room temperature, opt for the defrosting technique.

Selection of Food – Health experts are often seen advising their pregnant patients to stay clear from the following food items to prevent food poisoning in pregnancy.

  • Packaged meats
  • Unpasteurized vegetable or fruit juices
  • Raw or uncooked poultry, meat, eggs and seafood
  • Meat spreads and cheese

Take Away

Pregnancy is such a time when you need to be extra cautious about everything. Now it’s not only about yourself, but also about the little embryo growing inside you with every passing moment. Falling prey to food poisoning in pregnancy can be highly detrimental for both the mother and her fetus during pregnancy. So be extra careful with what you choose to eat because during these 9 months, after all everything has an impact on your baby. Follow the tips to prevent food poisoning in pregnancy, but if you note any symptoms, consult a doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Folic Acid. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/index.html
  2. World Health Organization. (2016). Guideline: Daily Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation in Pregnant Women. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241547625
  3. American Pregnancy Association. (2021). Folic Acid During Pregnancy. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/folic-acid-during-pregnancy-696
  4. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. (2018). Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation and Pregnancy. https://ranzcog.edu.au/statements-guidelines/statements/vitamin-and-mineral-supplementation-and-pregnancy
  5. National Health Service (NHS). (2021). Vitamins and Nutrition in Pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/vitamins-supplements-and-nutrition/

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 27, 2023

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