Pregnant women urged to be extra cautious during holiday season - Tucson News Now

Pregnant women urged to be extra cautious during holiday season

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Pregnant women might want to heed some advice and warnings to protect their babies over the holidays.

It's because there could be hidden dangers.

It's not just alcohol in recipes like rum balls and eggnog. Pregnant women also are warned to avoid foods including soft cheeses like Brie, feta and Camembert, as well as fish with high levels of mercury, such as swordfish.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center and MotherToBaby Arizona are working to raise awareness about the dangers.

"So we get a lot of calls about food that people may have had at parties-- smoked salmon or soft cheeses," said Chris Colon, who mans the phones at MotherToBaby Arizona.

MotherToBaby Arizona is a toll-free and confidential telephone service that provides information for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers if they're concerned about certain health dangers. 

MotherToBaby Arizona officials said those can include medicines, infections, drugs and occupational and environmental exposures. MotherToBaby Director Dee Quinn said food should be cooked, not smoked. As for what fish to totally avoid, Quinn said it's the big ones. Let them get away.

"They include mackerel, tilefish, swordfish and shark because they have the highest levels of mercury," Quinn said.

As for those soft cheeses...

"Queso, which we all love, but it's probably better not to eat when you're pregnant. The blue-veined cheeses. There are a number of them. Camembert, Brie are probably the most common ones," Quinn said.

Another common party food Quinn said pregnant women should leave on the party platter is lunch meats. 

"They can carry a bacteria called listeria which can cause miscarriage and still birth in pregnant women," Quinn said.

Of course, the big no-no is alcohol, but it could be hidden at the party.

"Alcohol can be hidden in some products that we may not be aware of. So some products, like rum balls or even punch," Quinn said.

So what's an expectant mother to do? 

"It's perfectly fine to ask either the host or the person who brought the dish to a party what exactly the ingredients are," Quinn said. "It's important for pregnant women to know what they're eating. Ultimately, we're trying to have nice, healthy babies."

Read more advice and warnings by clicking here.

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