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Listeria in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Listeria is the bacteria found in sea food, raw meats, raw milk and on raw vegetables. Foods can get contaminated with listeria during their processing. Listeria infection during pregnancy can increase the risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, and preterm delivery. If mom is infected late in pregnancy, the newborn can have the infection also, but we don’t see it passed through breast milk.

Symptoms

Not everyone has symptoms, but the symptoms might include diarrhea, fever/chills, muscle or joint pain, backache, headache, and other flu-like symptoms. The symptoms might not start for a few days or weeks.  Antibiotics are used to treat the infection.

Prevention

The usual food preparation processes help prevent listeriosis and other food-borne illnesses.

  • Wash raw vegetables and fruit before eating.
  • Cook meat, hot dogs, and seafood.
  • Check to see if soft cheeses and milk are pasteurized. Avoid raw milk and homemade cheese.
  • Wash hands, knives, cutting boards, and areas after preparing raw foods.
  • Avoid foods that have set out too long and are not hot or cold since they can be contaminated by growing bacteria. This is common with foods like potato salad that start out with cold ingredients but quickly warm up to room/outside temperature.