The Real Reason You Shouldn’t Eat Deli Meats During Pregnancy

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Pregnant people are ten times more likely than the general population to develop listeriosis, a serious kind of food poisoning (via American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). Symptoms can include fever, chills, diarrhea, muscle aches, headache, and stiff neck. Sometimes symptoms don’t show up for two months after eating food contaminated with Listeria, and sometimes pregnant people don’t have symptoms at all.

If someone who’s pregnant gets listeriosis, severe vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration, and the illness can also put you at risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth. Regardless of whether or not a pregnant person experiences symptoms, listeriosis can also be passed on to the fetus, which can cause infections in the blood and brain.

It’s recommended that if you do eat deli meat while pregnant, you heat the meat until it’s steaming or reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (via CDC). Even though risk of illness is low, the potential severity for pregnant people means that it should still be taken seriously, Dr. Steve Rad told TODAY.

Dr. Rad, Medical Director of Los Angeles Fetal & Maternal Care Center, is celebrity Chrissy Teigen’s doctor, who shared on social media that she heats her deli meat before consuming it while pregnant. She said that while she wants to indulge her cravings, she also wants to lower her risk of illness.

If you’re still wary of including deli meat in your diet while pregnant, try a vegan meat alternative or replace the meat with veggies and cheese, suggests BabyCenter.

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