A pediatrician advised pregnant women to avoid eating salad, raw fish, eggs and dairy products during their pregnancy to reduce the risk of bacterial infection that can be fatal for fetuses and newborns.
Cathay General Hospital pediatrician Huang Chun-pin (黃俊斌) said a 32-year-old pregnant woman living in Taipei, who often ate salad during her pregnancy, was suspected of eating vegetables contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, which caused her newborn baby to be infected with the bacteria and develop meningitis just days after birth.
Huang, who treated the woman, said the baby girl was observed to have low vitality, drowsiness, bad appetite and frequent low blood oxygen levels two days after birth due to meningitis caused by a congenital infection of the bacteria, which has been treated with antibiotics.
“Listeria monocytogenes is most commonly found in raw foods, such as raw meat or vegetables that are not properly washed,” Huang said, adding that the mother might have eaten salad contaminated with the bacteria, which could have been transmitted to the baby while passing through the birth canal.
“Serious cases of infection in pregnant women can cause premature rupture of membranes or stillbirth, as the infection can spread from the vagina into the placenta,” he said, adding that the mother said she had experienced a stillbirth in her previous pregnancy, which could have been caused by her habit of eating salad.
Huang said the bacteria spreads mainly through food and water, but can be killed by high temperatures, so the best way to prevent infection is by avoiding improperly washed salad, raw fish, dairy products, unpasteurized cheese, eggs and food containing raw eggs, such as salad dressing or eggnog.
According to Ministry of Health and Welfare data, the risks of Listeria monocytogene infection in pregnant women is 20 times that of normal people, and about one-third of infections were reported in pregnant women.
Huang said pregnant women, newborns and older people with chronic diseases are more prone to infection, and should take precautions to avoid infection.
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