Listeria in Pregnancy

by Nathan Fujita

With the recent Costco recall for peaches due to Listeria, I thought it would be a good time to blog about this organism. Listeria is a bacterium that can grow in many unusual environments, including normal refrigerator temperatures; freezing has little effect on this microbe as well. Pasteurization temperatures can kill Listeria, but there can be cross contamination if foods are not well handled. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to come down with Listeria, which can result in spontaneous abortion, preterm delivery or stillbirth. Initial symptoms are flu-like illness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Listeria can cross thru the placenta to infect the baby. A neonate that comes down with Listeria has up to a 50% mortality rate. Proper preparation, storage and handling of food can minimize your risk. Avoid hotdogs or deli meats unless it’s steaming hot; avoid soft cheeses like feta and brie; do not eat refrigerated pate or meat spreads.

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This information is not meant as medical advice. It is provided solely for education. Our practice would be pleased to discuss your unique circumstances and needs as they relate to these topics.