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Things you should avoid during pregnancy.

by Nathan L Williams

To prevent Toxoplasmosis :

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in the soil (and therefore on plants) or in meat. It is usually benign, except in non-immune pregnant women in whom the parasite can cross the placental barrier and infect the fetus with serious consequences. This is why a serology is systematically performed at the beginning of pregnancy. If the mother-to-be is not immune, she should take certain dietary precautions (1):

  • Avoid raw meat (tartar, carpaccio) or undercooked meat and cook all types of meat thoroughly (temperature between 67°C and 72°C in the middle). Avoid cooking meat in a microwave oven.
  • Wash vegetables, fruits and herbs very carefully to remove any soil residue and avoid eating them if you do not know how they were cleaned;
  • Wash hands after handling raw meat, raw vegetables with soil, and before each meal;
  • Avoid smoked, cured or marinated meats (potential risk);
  • Avoid raw goat’s milk (exceptional but proven risk).

To prevent listeriosis :

Listeriosis is a disease caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes present in the environment and which can contaminate the food chain. With 300 cases reported each year, it is a rare but potentially serious disease for the mother-to-be and her baby. During pregnancy, it is recommended to avoid foods considered the most at risk of contamination:

  • Raw milk cheeses;
  • The rind of cheeses
  • Smoked fish;
  • Raw shellfish
  • Tarama ;
  • Raw meat products such as cold cuts;
  • Sprouted seeds.
- It is also advisable to take certain precautions in the kitchen:
  • Wash raw vegetables and herbs carefully;
  • clean utensils and work surfaces before and after use and wash your hands after handling raw products
  • set the refrigerator at 4°C maximum and clean it regularly;
  • Respect the use-by dates for packaged foods and, in the case of cut products, consume them as soon as possible.

To prevent salmonellosis :

Salmonellosis is the second most common cause of foodborne illness and is responsible for acute gastroenteritis. In certain sensitive populations such as mothers-to-be, it can have serious consequences. To prevent it, we advise future mothers to :

  • avoid raw or undercooked eggs and all foods made with raw eggs (mayonnaise, chocolate mousse, tiramisu…);
  • choose pasteurized dairy products and milk;
  • eat well-cooked meat and fish.

Foods to limit as a preventive measure :

  • Sweeteners :


For several years, the question of the harmlessness on the foetus of sweeteners, and in particular of aspartame, has been raised. An epidemiological study (3) suggests a higher risk of premature delivery in the highest consumers of sweetened beverages. In its 2015 report on intense sweeteners (5), the ANSES concludes that the current work does not allow “to conclude on the risk related to the consumption of intense sweeteners during pregnancy, either on the health of the mother, the obstetrical parameters, or the health of the newborn. “Prevention is therefore necessary, especially since a recent study (6) found that regular consumption of diet beverages during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of the baby being overweight. The Canadian study, which followed more than 3000 mothers and their babies, showed that children whose mothers had regularly consumed this type of drink on a daily basis during their pregnancy were twice as likely to be overweight at the age of one year.

  • Certain fish :


Methylmercury is a heavy metal that occurs naturally in trace amounts in the environment, but it is particularly concentrated in fish, at different levels in different species. At high doses, it is toxic to the human central nervous system, especially during its development in utero. Also as a preventive measure, ANSES (7) issues the following recommendations for pregnant women:

  1. to avoid, as a precaution, eating the most contaminated fish: sharks, lampreys, swordfish, marlin and siki;
  2. limit the consumption of fish likely to be highly contaminated to 150 g. Either: monkfish or burbot, Atlantic wolffish, bonito, eel and elver, emperor, orange roughy or Mediterranean roughy, grenadier, Atlantic halibut, megrim, mullet, pike, tomcod, Mediterranean capelin, common pailona, skates, redfish, Atlantic sailfish, silver and black scabbardfish, sea bream, pageot, black or stromatous escolar, rouvet, snake escolar, sturgeon, tuna…
  • Soya :


Soy contains phyto-estrogens that mimic the sex hormone estradiol. Experiments on animals have shown abnormalities in the development of the genital organs and disorders of the fertility of the offspring after in utero or neonatal exposure to phyto-estrogens. This has not been proven in humans, but as a preventive measure, in its guide on nutrition for pregnant women (8), the INPES recommends limiting soy-based foods (soy milk, tofu, soy yogurt) to one per day during pregnancy.

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