A pregnant woman’s health, and that of her baby, can be seriously affected by Listeriosis, the disease resulting from listeria bacteria. Listeriosis commonly affects pregnant women with symptoms ranging from flu-like aches, pains, fever, nausea and vomiting, and stiffness to meningitis and/or meningoencephalitis.

Pregnant Women are 20 Times More Susceptible

Pregnant women are nearly 20 times more susceptible than other healthy adults are to Listeriosis. Most commonly, when infection is present, the fetus is affected more seriously and the infection can lead to early termination of the pregnancy, premature delivery, stillbirth or a very ill baby.

Like other food-born illnesses such as salmonella and e-Coli, Listeria can be contracted from ingesting the harmful bacteria found primarily in uncooked foods as well as processed foods that become contaminated. See foods to avoid for a list of these dangerous foods.

Symptoms of Listeriosis

While Listeriosis can occur at any point in the pregnancy, it appears most frequently in the last trimester when the immune system is somewhat suppressed. With symptoms appearing up to 2 – 30 days after exposure, getting regular prenatal care and reporting any symptoms to your care provider, public health nurse or clinic can enable early detection and treatment which in turn may prevent serious infection or fetal death. A blood test is the most reliable way to discover if you have Listeriosis.

Treating Listeriosis

Listeriosis is effectively treated by antibiotics during pregnancy and, in most cases, can prevent infection in the fetus and newborn. Babies born with the infection are treated with the same antibiotics as the pregnant woman would receive – usually a combination of antibiotics are used until the diagnosis is confirmed.

Practicing safe food handling and being aware of foods that may carry the bacteria can keep pregnant women and their babies safe and healthy before and after birth.

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