A dietitian’s knowledge of diet and parasitology allows them to understand the dangers facing an infant and therefore, offer important advice to protect pregnant woman.
Are you pregnant ? Great news! If you have ever been interested in a pregnant woman’s diet, you may have heard about toxoplasmosis. It’s normally just a mild illness but it can cause problems to your baby. But don’t panic, there are plenty of food precautions you can take so you eat properly when pregnant and stay safe.
Toxoplasmosis, what are the symptoms?
It sounds brutal; we are starting to get used to all these strange diseases … Toxoplasmosis is actually a disease caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii. It is estimated that 50% of the French population has already had toxoplasmosis (1) at some point in their lives. If, at some point, you have been forced, in the middle of a day’s work, to head home in your car, shivering, struck down with tiredness and aching muscles, with some swelling in the neck … you probably thought, at the time, you had a bad attack of flu when in fact, it was possibly a case of toxoplasmosis. However, you should know that in 80% of cases, we don’t even realise we are affected … So, how do we catch this disease? Well, there are several ways you can become infected: either by your lovely little kitty who is the main carrier of this parasite, or by eating contaminated meat or water. Once infected, our body naturally develops immunity against the parasite.
A simple blood test, at the start of your pregnancy, will be enough to know whether you are immune to it, or not. Alternatively, you could take your loyalty card to your neighbourhood’s testing laboratory for a simple, monthly blood test.
Pregnant and toxoplasmosis, what are the risks for your baby?
I’m not talking about toxoplasmosis for the sake of it. As a future mother it’s important to understand the potential consequences of this disease for your foetus; namely a risk of congenital toxoplasmosis. If it doesn’t sound particularly reassuring, it’s for good reason. Although these days it is very well tracked, it’s still important to respect some small simple rules to avoid a complicated pregnancy.
If toxoplasmosis is contracted in the early stages of pregnancy (first trimester), the consequences for the baby can be serious: a delay in development, a reflex disorder, or even psychomotor disorders. As the pregnancy progresses and your placenta develops, the risk of transmission increases, however, the consequences for the baby are often less serious because it has already largely formed. Be careful, nevertheless, I never said it doesn’t have any impact! Ocular or neurological disorders are not to be neglected …
Please do not be afraid, I’m only telling you all about this because it’s important to know about it. As always, prevention is the most effective way to avoid any medical inconvenience. And that’s where our qualified nutritionist-dieticians come in who, as part of their training, learn how to protect Mums and their baby. In addition to being able to advise about your diet during pregnancy, the dietician will also give you tips, on a daily basis, to avoid any risks. Thus, thanks to our personalised prevention and to modern screening techniques, toxoplasmosis is less and less common during pregnancy, and the discovery of foetal malformations less and less numerous.
Now….since I am a really nice dietician:), I’m going to give you a few tips to use at home.
Which foods are not recommended during pregnancy to avoid toxoplasmosis?
If you are not immune to toxoplasmosis and you are pregnant, I’m afraid i’m going to have to ban you from eating certain foods.
Let’s take a quick tour:
Meat, fish, raw eggs, seafood and shellfish
In no case whatsoever, should any of these foods be eaten raw or undercooked. Bacteria is not resistant to high temperatures, that’s why we should always cook them thoroughly.
Remember to cook the meat and seafood long enough, and to ensure all the utensils used in their preparation are clean. Also avoid cold cuts, or smoked meat, which can possibly be risky. As for eggs, you can eat them hard or as a well-cooked omelette. I’m afraid there can be no eggs in a cup for you during these few months … sorry!
Dairy products made from raw milk
Raw milk is milk that has not been heated, so that it may eventually be contaminated by bacteria. Do not take a risk, and avoid dairy products and raw cheeses made with milk.
Vegetables, fruits and aromatic plants
I’m not teaching you anything by telling you they all grow in the earth. But the soil may be contaminated with bacteria, so if you are going to pick any of these you should use gloves to avoid contact with the earth. Rinse crudités and aromatic plants well so that there are no traces of soil. Finally, if you go out for a meal, avoid seasonal salads and choose cooked vegetables instead, you never know how it was cleaned.
Cleaning the cats litter
As I told you at the start of the article, your pet cat can be a genuine source of danger during pregnancy (even if you are very fond of him!!!). By being pregnant, you have found the perfect excuse to delegate cleaning the litter to your other half or one of your children: after all, there is a risk of contamination! Also, be careful not to play too boisterously with your little companion in case he scratches and contaminates you.
Well, I have given you the big picture, but it’s not so easy to remember all the forbidden foods during pregnancy, is it?
That’s why we dieticians exist ! The advantage in going to meet one of our qualified coach nutritionists is that they are specially trained to answer all your questions and to adapt their menus to your lifestyle. Are you a vegetarian and pregnant ? No worries, it’s all possible with 100% personalised advice and diet menus for pregnant women.. No more need to search for a 1000 answers from the net, finally, you can fully trust someone to look after you and your diet during pregnancy.
(1) ANSES (2016). Toxoplasmose : Présentation de la maladie, recommandations et rôle de l’Anses. Consulté le 22 octobre 2019, à l’adresse https://www.anses.fr/fr/content/toxoplasmose
(2) Bessières, M. H., Cassaing, S., Fillaux, J., & Berrebi, A. (2008). Toxoplasmose et grossesse. Revue francophone des laboratoires, 2008(402), 39-50.