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Top 10 holiday foods to avoid during pregnancy

Kim Grundy is a mom, writer, expert laundry folder and sandwich maker, not necessarily in that order. Raised in Oklahoma, she is now a West Coast gal and lives in California with her husband and two sons, along with one dog, two fish (oo...

Unsafe foods during pregnancy

The holidays are a time of fun, family and plenty of yummy food and drinks. When you are pregnant, however, you must be extra careful of what you are eating and drinking because of the effect food can have on your baby. Experts share with us the top 10 holiday foods to avoid during pregnancy. Read our list before you sit down for that holiday meal.

Glass of eggnog

We all overindulge during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, but some popular holiday foods can actually harm your baby if eaten while pregnant.

Dr. Christina Chambers, professor of pediatrics at UCSD and program director of CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line, says that telling pregnant women to avoid alcohol during the holidays is her number one concern. "It's crucial we spread the word during this time of year, especially about avoiding alcohol in pregnancy," she said.

What else is on the list? Read on to find out the top 10 holiday foods and drinks to avoid during pregnancy.

Number 1Spiced Cider

Before you down that glass of spiced cider, make sure it does not contain any alcohol. Most experts agree that you should completely avoid alcohol during pregnancy. "Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is a leading cause of mental retardation," says Laurel Prince, a CTIS teratogen information specialist.

What you can drink: Non-alcoholic apple cider or spiced cider

Number 2Eggnog

Most holiday eggnogs contain brandy, so check with the host to make sure it is non-alcoholic before indulging.

What you can drink: Pasteurized non-alcoholic eggnog

Number 3Rum balls

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Think rum balls don't contain enough alcohol to be harmful during pregnancy? Think again. Rum balls actually do contain enough alcohol that they should be avoided during the holidays. What about chocolate balls without rum? Go ahead and enjoy -- with some reservations: "Just also be aware that chocolate contains caffeine and pregnant women shouldn't consume more than 300mg of caffeine per day," says Prince.

What you can eat: White chocolate balls (no caffeine!) or white chocolate chip cookies

Number 4Soft cheeses

Panela, Cotija, Queso Fresco, Blue-Veined Cheeses, Brie, Feta and Camembert are all soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk and must be avoided during pregnancy. They can contain the bacteria listeria monocytogenes that can cause a miscarriage or stillbirth.

What you can eat: Cheeses marked "made with pasteurized milk," such as Cheddar, Colby, Parmesan, Romano, Swiss, mozzarella and Monterey Jack.

Number 5Hot dogs and lunch meats

When eaten cold, they can also contain the bacteria listeria monocytogenes which can be harmful to baby.

What you can eat: You can eat lunch meats if you heat them until they are steaming hot.

Keep reading for more foods to avoid during pregnancy

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