Most people know drinking alcohol and smoking should be avoided during pregnancy but some otherwise healthful foods can also pose problems during the early period in a baby's development. Many women experience odd cravings during their pregnancies, but there are some items of which they should definitively steer clear until the baby has been born.

High-Mercury Fish

Mercury can be toxic to the nervous system, kidneys, and immune system in high quantities. Not all fish are high in mercury, but pregnant women should avoid consuming those that could be, such as king mackerel, swordfish, and shark as the developing fetus is much more susceptible to the issues this chemical can pose. Fatty fish and seafood, on the other hand, are high in omega-3 acids and are helpful to both baby and mother. Salmon, shrimp, tuna can all be part of a healthy pregnancy diet.

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Deli Meats

There is a possibility that deli meats contain listeria, a bacteria that can lead to blood poisoning or miscarriages if it crosses the placenta and infects the baby. If possible, pregnant women should avoid meats that have not been recently heated to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Raw Eggs

Raw eggs or foods that contain raw eggs may have been exposed to salmonella. Homemade dressings such as hollandaise and Caesar along with mayonnaise and custards can contain this potentially dangerous bacteria. Expectant mothers should stick to well-cooked, pasteurized eggs to remove the risk of salmonella poisoning.

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Raw Vegetable Sprouts

Growing raw sprouts at home has become a popular pastime for many people but alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung beans that are grown at home or purchased in a store could carry bacteria that are very difficult to remove completely through washing. When pregnant, women should avoid eating raw sprouts, though sauteeing them in a stirfry or other meal is safe.

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Too Much Caffeine

Caffeine in moderation during pregnancy is fine, according to most studies. However, some research links excessive consumption of this stimulant to miscarriages. Doctors often recommend women avoid caffeine during their first trimester and limit themselves to no more than 200 mg per day for the rest of the pregnancy. In addition to this risk, coffee, pop, and other caffeinated drinks are diuretics and can lead to dehydration and calcium depletion.

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Unpasteurized Juice

Fruit juices sold at markets or farm stands might look appealing, but if they have not gone through a pasteurization process, they could carry bacteria and toxins that are harmful to a fetus. Pregnant women should make sure the drinks they select are pasteurized.

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Undercooked Meat

Eating undercooked meat, such as poultry, can lead to toxoplasmosis caused by the Toxoplasma parasite. Flu-like symptoms occur upon consumption of this parasite but can take weeks to become concerning, especially if a woman is already experiencing mild sickness due to her pregnancy. This delay in treatment can result in complications for mother and baby. Undercooked or raw meat could also contain salmonella. Pregnant women should save their rare cuts for after delivery.

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Soft Cheeses

Soft cheese such as camembert, brie, and feta are best avoided during pregnancy unless pasteurized options are available because they can contain the listeria bacterium. Hard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, and American do not contain excess water and are therefore unlikely to harbor bacteria.

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Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables

Unwashed fruits and vegetables contain toxoplasma parasites that can harm a developing baby. Toxoplasmosis contaminates the soil where fruits and veggies grow, which makes washing produce well before use is especially essential during pregnancy. Scrub away or remove surfaces that look bruised; these are more prone to bacteria.

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Alcohol is a big no-no for pregnant women. Some doctors today say small amounts of red wine are fine during pregnancy but if a pregnant woman has any concerns, avoiding alcohol altogether is a good alternative. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy has been linked to fetal alcohol syndrome and other congenital disabilities.

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