What is Listeria in Pregnancy?

Rachel Adams
8 Min Read

During pregnancy, you need to be aware of what you put inside your body. You need to be aware of what is good to eat and also about what is not so good to eat, as some of the foods will cause you to contract listeria during the pregnancy. Listeria is a type of bacteria that can be found in some contaminated food. If you want to know about how to test for listeria in pregnancy then keep reading this guide.

Listeria will create issues for you and your baby. Also, listeriosis is quite rare, and pregnant women are more susceptible to it than non-pregnant healthy adults. Listeria monocytogenes is one of the types of bacteria found in water and soil. The vegetables will become contaminated by the soil and animals as well.

Listeria can be found in uncooked meats, uncooked vegetables, unpasteurized milk, foods made up of unpasteurized milk, and also processed foods. Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking. Contamination may occur in ready-to-eat foods like hot dogs and deli meats, as the contamination will take place after cooking and before packaging.

What Are the Chances of Listeriosis in a Pregnant Woman?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 260 out of the estimated 1,700 Americans who fall ill each year will pass away. Also, the CDC states that pregnant women are 20 times more likely to get infected as compared to non-pregnant healthy adults. The number of cases of listeriosis in pregnant women is around 17%.

Listeria in Pregnancy

How Will I Know If I Have Listeriosis?

The symptoms of listeria in pregnancy will show up 2.30 days after the exposure. The signs of listeria in pregnancy in the pregnant woman generally include flu-like symptoms, headaches, muscle aches, fever, nausea, and vomiting as well. If the infection spreads to the nervous system, it will cause stiff neck, disorientation, or convulsions.

The infection will mainly occur at any time during the pregnancy, but it is pretty standard during the third trimester when the immune system is suppressed. Be sure to contact your doctor if you face any of these symptoms, and a blood test will confirm the infection caused by listeriosis.

Will Having Listeria in Pregnancy Harm My Baby?

There are several factors that raise the risk of listeria infection during pregnancy, including:

  • Miscarriage
  • Premature delivery
  • Infection to the newborn
  • Death to the newborn

Early treatment with antibiotics will prevent fetal infection and other severe fetal complications. Not all the babies whose mothers are infected have any problems related to listeriosis.

How is Listeria in Pregnancy Treated?

Listeriosis is mainly treated with antibiotics during the pregnancy. These antibiotics will prevent the infection in the fetus and newborn. These antibiotics are also given to the newborn with the listeriosis.

How Can I Prevent Listeriosis in My Baby?

Here, we are sharing the guidelines that can significantly reduce your chances of contracting listeria in pregnancy.

Eat hard cheeses instead of soft cheese

  • The CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid soft cheese like feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, and Mexican-style cheeses like queso fresco, queso blanco, and panel, which don’t state that they are pasteurized. Hard cheese like cheddar and semi-soft cheese like mozzarella are safe to consume. Pasteurized processed cheese slices and spreads like cream cheese and cottages like cream cheese and cottage cheese are safe to consume. The critical thing to do is to check out the labels.
  • Be cautious when eating hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats unless they are adequately reheated to streaming: Eating at a restaurant that offers deli meat sandwiches is not suggested for pregnant women as they don’t reheat their deli meats. Pregnant women should avoid eating non-luncheon meat dishes like meatballs, steak and cheese, roasted chicken, and tuna, according to restaurants like Subway.
  • Don’t eat the refrigerated pates or the meat spreads.
  • Don’t eat refrigerated smoked seafood unless it is contained in a cooked dish like a casserole.

Practice Safe Food Handling

  • Ensure to wash all the fruits and vegetables
  • Keep everything clean, like your hands and preparation surfaces.
  • Ensure that your refrigerator thermometer is at 40 degrees or below.
  • Clean your refrigerator.
  • Avoid cross-contamination between raw and uncooked foods.
  • Cook the foods at the proper temperature and reheat all the foods.

Do Listeria Symptoms Differ During Pregnancy?

You can look out for things like chilis, headaches, muscle aches, excessive nausea, vomiting, or fever as well.

Maintaining routine follow-ups with the obstetrician is imperative to monitor the health of the baby and ensure that you are following the recommended food during this time.

Also Read: Symptoms of Low iron in pregnancy

Final Verdict

Antibiotics are usually given to pregnant women who have a fever or are exposed to listeria, whether or not they show symptoms. Your doctor will also ask for a blood test to confirm the diagnosis. The pregnant woman is required to be treated for listeriosis to prevent fetal infection.

If you want to know about what listeria is in pregnancy and how to cure it quickly, then you can read and follow this guide to understand everything about it.

Also Read More: Anemia in Pregnancy


What trimester are you most likely to get listeria?

The mother is more likely to be at danger when her pregnancy enters the third trimester. Listeriosis may also lead to premature labor, the delivery of a low-birth-weight infant, or infant death as well.

How is listeria treated during pregnancy?

Penicillin, ampicillin, and amoxicillin will be used most extensively in the listeriosis treatment. Most experts suggest 6 g or more per day of ampicillin for treatment during the pregnancy. This dosage will also provide adequate intracellular penetration and also cross the placenta in an adequate amount.

Can a fetus survive listeria?

The infection has grave consequences for your developing baby, mainly if you are not treated promptly. In addition to infecting the placenta, the fetus, and the amniotic fluid, listeria can also result in stillbirth or miscarriage. The surviving sick babies will probably be prematurely born.

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Rachel Adams, is an expert on women's health. Her work at pregnancycounselors.com. is aimed in helping women understand their bodies better through easy-to-read articles and blogs. With Rachel, you get an advice that you can trust. In women's health topics, she covers everything from pregnancy tips to staying healthy after childbirth. Her writing style is clear and friendly, making even the complex topics easy to understand. Rachel's mission is to empower women with the knowledge they need to make smart choices about their health. Whether you're expecting a baby or just want to feel your best, Rachel's articles are here to guide you through every step of your decisions
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