Article Courtesy of March of Dimes

What you need to know:

Not all foods are safe for pregnant women. Some contain high levels of chemicals that can affect your baby’s development. Others put you at risk for getting an infection that can hurt your baby.

What you can do:

Use common sense when preparing and selecting foods. Avoid the following:

-Swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tile fish. These fish can contain potentially risky levels of mercury. Mercury can be transferred to the growing fetus and cause serious health problems. Also avoid game fish until you check its safety with your local health department. (A game fish is any fish caught for sport, such as trout, salmon or bass.)

-Raw fish, especially shellfish (oysters, clams)

-Undercooked meat, poultry and seafood. Cook all of them thoroughly to kill bacteria. 

-Do not eat hot dogs or luncheon meats. Examples are deli meats such as ham, turkey, salami and bologna. If you do eat these foods, reheat them until steaming hot.

-Refrigerated pates or meat spreads. Canned versions are safe.

-Refrigerated smoked seafood unless it has been cooked (as in a casserole). Canned versions are safe.

-Soft-scrambled eggs and all foods made with raw or lightly cooked eggs

-Soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk. Examples are Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco and Panela. Check the label to see what kind of milk was used to make the cheese. 

-Unpasteurized milk and any foods made from it

-Unpasteurized juices

-Raw vegetable sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean

-Herbal supplements and teas

-Also do not eat too much liver. It contains high amounts of vitamin A, which can lead to birth defects.

Some studies indicate that your baby may be at increased risk of developing a food allergy in later life if you, your partner or a family member has a food allergy. You may wish to consult a food allergy specialist for help in planning your diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


Not all foods are safe for pregnant women. Be safe and avoid the ones on this list.

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