Food guidelines for pregnant women need review

March 21, 2012, Newcastle University

A University of Newcastle study has identified a major diet dilemma for pregnant women and those trying to conceive – avoiding potentially ‘risky’ foods while maintaining an adequate nutrient intake.

The study of more than 7,000 Australian women, published in Public Health Nutrition, is the first to examine the nutrient intakes of pregnant women who adhered to the recommended Listeria guidelines.

Researchers found that women who frequently ate a range of foods potentially containing Listeria had a 20 per cent greater risk of miscarriage than those who rarely ate these foods, but also had the highest intake of nutrients essential for a healthy pregnancy.

“This is quite a dilemma,” said lead researcher, Professor Clare Collins. “It is important for pregnant women to achieve a balance between an adequate intake of nutrients such as folate, iron, zinc and protein, and reducing their risk of Listeriosis.

“In our study, moderate or low consumption of foods at risk of contamination by Listeria was not associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, suggesting that a balanced consumption of potentially risky foods with foods containing essential nutrients may be the best approach.”

Current Australian Government dietary guidelines recommend pregnant women and those trying to conceive avoid raw meat, unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, pre-packaged salads, delicatessen meats and raw fruit and vegetables as they can be contaminated with the bacteria Listeria Monocytogenes.  In pregnancy, this can lead to still birth, premature birth and miscarriage.

Professor Collins said the study findings suggested the need for a review of current Listeria recommendations to .

“The recommendations need to include the list of ‘risky’ foods, but should focus on giving women low-risk alternatives to help them meet their optimal nutrient targets. It is also vital to emphasise the importance of safe handling procedures.

“Women need to know how to balance opposing risks.  We want them to feel confident about the foods they choose, so they minimise the risk of Listeriosis while giving their baby the best possible start to life.”

Although the incidence in pregnancy is low, Listeriosis is considered an important public health issue due to the potentially serious impact on the foetus, including miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and neonatal infection.  In 2008 approximately 65 cases of Listeriosis were reported in Australia, 12 during pregnancy and one of which was fatal.

Professor Clare Collins is a Co-Director of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition and a member of the HMRI’s cardiovascular program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

Explore further: Expectant mothers face unique challenges during the holidays

More information: Visit the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition

Related Stories

Expectant mothers face unique challenges during the holidays

December 16, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Some people look at the holidays as a time to throw caution to the wind. Pregnant women, however, should be mindful of what food, drink and activities they chose to partake of every day—especially ...

Moms-to-be need more vitamin D, say experts

July 7, 2011
Irish pregnant women have vitamin D intakes far below those recommended for the normal development of a child’s bones, according to research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

US death toll from cantaloupe rises to 23

October 12, 2011
An outbreak of listeria in farm-grown cantaloupes has killed 23 people and sickened 116 more in the United States since late July, health authorities said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

Study reveals what sleep talkers have to say

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France has conducted a study regarding sleep talking and has found that most sleep talking is not only negative in nature, but involves a large amount of swearing. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.