Why Avoid Prosciutto during Pregnancy

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 04, 2012

Why Avoid Prosciutto during Pregnancy

Prosciutto is an Italian ham which is often found in Italian dishes, as appetizer, main dish and salads. This meat carries the risk of a disease called listeria. It is a disease caused by food contamination and since prosciutto is served cold, it is more likely to carry the microbes that cause it. Although some pregnant women like to consume it after getting rid of its contamination, most prefer to avoid it altogether as they do not find it worth the risk, however little it may be.


Food safety concerns when deciding about eating prosciutto

The major concerns about food contamination during pregnancy are avoiding toxins and bacterial infection. Although some foods contain toxins, they are not harmful for adults in a certain amount. But they are to be avoided during pregnancy because the immune system is not strong enough to absorb the toxins without causing damage. There is always a risk of bacteria going beyond the placenta if pregnant women consume foods such as prosciutto.

Some of the other foods that need to be avoided for the same reason prosciutto is avoided are unpasteurised milk, raw fish, ready-to-eat cold meats, unpasteurised cheese, luncheon meats and hot dogs, uncooked eggs such as runny eggs, sauces made with raw eggs and the like. All of these carry the risk of listeria infection which can lead to miscarriage or a life-threatening condition.


Risk and symptoms of eating prosciutto during pregnancy

Listeriosis is the disease that results after infection from listeria. Even though the disease is rare, the American Pregnancy Association has cautioned women against it. This is because pregnant women are twenty times more likely to suffer from the ailment than other people. Moreover, pregnant women in their third trimester have an even greater risk.

If you have had any of the foods with the listeria contamination, and experience symptoms such as fever, headaches, nausea and muscle aches. The complications of the condition can occur even in the nervous system leading to convulsions, stiff neck and lack of nerve.

Meats that are sliced thin, such as prosciutto are exposed more to the environment; hence carry a greater risk of bacterial contamination. The greatest risk of such a contamination is not gastrointestinal distress but the risk of preterm labour and even miscarriage when the bacteria cross the placenta.

Even if your prosciutto has been treated with nitrate to remove contamination and even heated, it still poses a risk during pregnancy. The high salt content of this meat can cause high blood pressure, which is avoidable in any case, but more so during pregnancy.

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