Revised:Thursday October 09 2014
Important signs to watch for if you are pregnant
- Bad cramps or stomach pains that don't go away.
- Bleeding or a trickle or gush of fluid from your vagina.
- Lower back pain/pressure or change in lower back pain.
- A feeling that the baby is pushing down.
- Contractions or change in the strength or number of them.
- An increase in the amount of vaginal discharge.
- Fever, chills, dizziness, vomiting or a bad headache.
- Blurry vision or spots before your eyes.
- Sudden or severe swelling of your feet, hand or face.
- A significant change in your baby's movements.
Go to a hospital right away and contact your doctor/midwife if you have any of these symptoms.
Adapted with permission from:
Best Start: Ontario's Maternal Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre
Listeriosis & pregnancy | Caffeine & pregnancy | Herbal teas & supplements |
Listeriosis & pregnancy
What is listeriosis?
Listeriosis is a rare but serious illness caused by a bacterium called Listeria often found in soil, ground water, plants and in food. Many people can carry Listeria in their bodies without becoming sick.
Plants and vegetables can become contaminated with Listeria from the soil, water and manure-based fertilizers. Farm animals that appear healthy may also carry Listeria and contaminate foods such as meats and dairy products. You can get listeriosis by eating food contaminated with Listeria.
Unlike most bacteria Listeria can grow on food that is stored in the refrigerator. As well, food that is contaminated with Listeria looks, smells and tastes normal. You can kill Listeria by cooking food properly.
Why should I be concerned during pregnancy?
Pregnant women and their unborn babies are 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. This is because the hormonal changes in pregnancy affect a woman’s immune system and make her more susceptible to listeriosis. The infection can pass to a woman’s baby through the placenta even if the mother has no signs of being sick. Babies can be born with listeriosis if their mothers eat contaminated food during pregnancy.
Listeriosis in pregnancy can lead to:
- premature delivery,
- fetal death and
- severe illness or death of a newborn from infection.
What are the symptoms of listeriosis?
The symptoms of listeriosis can take from one day after eating the contaminated food to 90 days after exposure. Symptoms can be very mild or very serious. That’s why it is very important to handle food properly and use food safety precautions during pregnancy.
In pregnant women, listeriosis may cause:
- flu-like symptoms,
- sudden onset of fever,
- muscle aches,
- upset stomach,
- nausea and
If the infection has spread to the nervous system, symptoms are:
- stiff neck,
- loss of balance and
- convulsions (seizures)
Contact your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms. A blood test can be done to find out if you have listeriosis.
Can listeriosis be treated?
Pregnant women can be treated with antibiotics. In most cases the antibiotics will also prevent infection in the newborn. Babies born with listeriosis are also given antibiotics. Early diagnosis is important to the success of treatment.
How can you prevent listeriosis?
You can decrease your chances of becoming infected with Listeria by following the following guidelines for safe food handling and preparation.
- Wash your hands and clean surfaces used for preparing food often
- Clean thoroughly all knives, cutting boards, working surfaces and utensils that are used to prepare raw food before using them again
- Wash all fruits and vegetables well before you eat them
- Defrost frozen foods in the refrigerator, microwave or in cold running water, never on the counter
- Cook foods to the proper internal temperature using a food thermometer
- Refrigerate or freeze perishable, prepared or leftovers within 2 hours
- Throw out leftovers after 4 days, and reheat before eating them
- Follow "use by" or "best before" dates especially on packaged food that has a long shelf life
- Wash and disinfect the refrigerator often
- Check the temperature on your refrigerator to make sure it is at 4°C (40°F) or below
Foods to avoid in pregnancy
For more information:
Listeriosis and Food Safety
Region of Peel-Public Health
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216
To speak to a Public Health Nurse or Registered Dietitian