Although pregnant women who contract listeriosis, an infection caused by ingesting Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, often develop only mild symptoms, it is one of the most lethal bacterial diseases for fetuses and infants. To learn more about how listeriosis affects fetuses, researchers used ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging to study pregnant mice.
In the U.S., about 1600 people are sickened by Listeria each year. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to contract listeriosis than the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 1 of every 6 patients diagnosed with listeriosis are pregnant women. Listeriosis during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection in newborns.
Pregnant women should avoid foods most commonly at risk for Listeria contamonation: deli meat, hot dogs, smoked fish, raw milk, soft cheese, pates, meat spreads and prepackaged deli salads, according to the CDC.
The cantaloupe Listeria outbreak of 2011, was the largest Listeria outbreak on record. At least 30 people died and a total of 146 people in 28 states were sickened. Seven of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; three were diagnosed in newborns and four were diagnosed in pregnant women. One miscarriage was reported.