According to the California Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) Pregnancy Health Information Line, many drinks and foods commonly served during the holidays can lead to pregnancy problems. If you're pregnant, here are a few items CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line recommends steering clear of.
Spiced cider and eggnog, two of the most popular beverages served during the holidays, can be dangerous for pregnant women because they often contain alcohol.
Many punch recipes also call for liquor ingredients. Because alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to a child's mental retardation, avoid drinking a beverage if you're unsure about the ingredients it contains.
There's nothing wrong with politely asking whoever made the drink for clarification about what's in it.
Snacks & Appetizers
You might be surprised to learn how many traditional, but troublesome, foods can be found in holiday spreads.
For example, did you know it can be harmful to eat soft cheese such as Panela, Cotija, Queso Fresco, Blue-Veined Cheeses, Brie, Feta and Camembert?
According to the CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line, these items should be avoided unless they're labeled, "made with pasteurized milk." Unpasteurized milk can contain the bacteria listeria monocytogenes, which can cause listeriosis, an infection that can harm a developing baby and increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, uterine infection, premature labor and death in newborns.
Desserts & Sweets
When satisfying your sweet tooth, be careful about which treats you reach for. Popular sweets like rum balls contain alcohol and chocolate contains caffeine. If you're pregnant, experts advise that you limit your caffeine intake to 300 mg or less.
Also beware of imported candies. Lead, which can prompt premature delivery, miscarriage and stillbirth when consumed in excess, has been found in wrappers of imported candies and in consumer candies imported from Mexico.
Meats & Seafood
Certain cheeses aren't the only foods that can cause that icky listeriosis infection mentioned earlier. Refrigerated pates and meat spreads can cause it too. If you want to coat a cracker with something safe and tasty, the CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line suggests you opt for alternative spreads such as peanut butter, almond butter or pasteurized cream cheese.
The listeria monocytogenes bacteria can also reside in many types of refrigerated smoked seafood such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna and mackerel, which are most often labeled as "nova-style," "lox," "kippered," "smoked" or "jerky," according to the CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line. The organization encourages pregnant women to avoid these items unless they're part of a thoroughly cooked dish, such as a casserole.
Another guideline pregnant women should consider for food safety is to consume less than 12-ounces of large predator fish (tuna, shark, tilefish and king mackerel) per week.
According to experts, these fish contain methylmercury, which can cause birth defects such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation and blindness.
Undercooked turkey and ham are other major no-nos. Before eating, pregnant women should make sure the meat was thoroughly cooked at the appropriate temperature. Experts recommend using meat thermometers to help ensure the food is ready for consumption.
Ultimately, if you feel uneasy about eating or drinking something, either skip doing so or start investigating to find out if it's safe or not. Both strategies are sure-fire ways to ensure that this holiday season is one you'll look back on with joy, rather than regret.