Pregnant women should avoid eating raw or undercooked meat as well as deli meat contaminated with listeria, which has the potential to cause a miscarriage or blood poisoning, explains the American Pregnancy Association. Pregnant women should also avoid eating fish with high levels of mercury, such as swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel. Research links high levels of mercury consumption to brain damage and developmental delays in the fetus.
Smoked seafood is often contaminated with listeria, and pregnant women should avoid it unless heated or used as an ingredient in a cooked meal, such as a casserole, as the American Pregnancy Association advises. Fish that has been exposed to industrial pollutants from rivers and contaminated lakes also poses a risk for pregnant women. Raw shellfish such as clams, mussels and oysters are not recommended for pregnant women to consume due to the algae-related infections that could result. Pregnant women should also avoid raw eggs and condiments such as mayonnaise, dressings and sauces made with raw eggs to avoid exposure to salmonella.
Pregnant women should avoid any potential exposure to listeria, which is also found in soft cheeses such as brie, feta, gorgonzola and roquefort, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Cheeses made with pasteurized milk are safe for pregnant women. Additionally, pregnant women should avoid or limit their caffeine intake.