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Foods to Avoid While Pregnant

A woman prepares food in a kitchen

When you are pregnant, you need to pay special attention to your diet because the foods you choose can affect the health of your unborn baby. Fish can be very nutritious and high in omega-3 fatty acids, but avoid fish that have a very high mercury content such as king mackerel, tilefish, shark and swordfish.

Kimberly K. Roos, MD, FACOG
Kimberly K. Roos, MD, FACOG

“Mercury is a contaminant that can damage a baby’s brain development and nervous system,” says Kimberly K. Roos, MD, FACOG, obstetrician and gynecologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “You can certainly consume fish like salmon, catfish and tilapia that have a lower amount of mercury, but limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week.

“Additionally, try to avoid hot dogs, lunch meat, cold cuts, and unpasteurized milk and food products to decrease the risk of foodborne illness such as listeriosis. Pregnant women are 13 times more likely to get this illness, if exposed, than the general population,” says Roos.

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