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Pregnant women should 'avoid processed food'

Processed food should be avoided by pregnant women due to the danger of contracting Listeriosis, two bodies have warned
Pregnant women should not eat processed food to avoid contracting Listeriosis according to Ireland's Health Protection Surveillance Centre and Safefood.

Foods like pates, smoked fish, soft cheese and ready meals should all be shunned as they sometimes contain the bacterium Listeria, the consumption of which can lead to Listeriosis.

While not particularly dangerous for the mother, the disease can be very dangerous for the unborn child.

"Listeria is a bacterium found in many types of food," said Safefood's Dr Thomas Quigley.

"Infection in healthy adults usually produces no symptoms, or a mild flu-like illness.

"However, in certain people including unborn babies, people with weakened immune systems and elderly people, it can cause very severe illness, or even death."

Mothers-to-be should make sure they have plenty of seafood - containing omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) - in their diet however, according to the June 2008 Fats of Life and PUFA newsletter.

The newsletter pointed to studies which show that eating getting lots of omega-3 fatty acids from seafood during pregnancy was linked to greater birth weight, gestational age, visual acuity and better mental and psychomotor developmental scores.

Contaniments in seafood that could cause problems were warned about, although the benefits of seafood should outweigh any negative aspects.

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