Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

by Dr Tan Thiam Chye
Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore
from the best-selling “
The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth

Food safety is extremely important during pregnancy. This is because bacterial toxins and certain harmful chemicals such as alcohol and methylmercury can pass from mother to baby, and cause undesirable outcomes.

The list below lists the foods to be avoided :-

Unpasteurized milk; soft cheeses e.g. Brie, feta, Camembert and
Roquefort; liver pates; and uncooked hot dogs, ham and luncheon meats.

These foods are prone to Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes listeriosis, which may result in miscarriages and stillbirth.

Raw or undercooked meat; poultry; seafood e.g. raw oyster, cockles, sashimi and sushi; and eggs.
Raw and undercooked animal foods contain a variety of food-borne bacteria and viruses. Changes in your metabolism and circulation during pregnancy may increase the risk of bacterial food poisoning, and your reaction may be more severe than if you weren’t pregnant. Avoid raw or half-boiled eggs.
Avoid swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel. Limit canned albacore tuna.

Herbal supplements- Herbal products have not been studied enough to be recommended during pregnancy. Black cohosh, blue cohosh, Chinese angelica (Dong Quai) and ginseng are among the herbs which have the potential to harm a developing foetus when used in a concentrated formulation.
Alcohol- Mothers who drink alcohol have a higher risk of miscarriages and stillbirth, and excessive alcohol consumption may result in fetal alcohol syndrome, including facial deformities, low birth weight and mental retardation. Limit to 2 glasses of wine a week.
Unwashed salad and raw vegetables sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean.
Unwashed salads may be contaminated with bacteria from the soil, while raw vegetables sprouts contain high levels of germs, which can be harmful to health.

Extracted from best-selling “The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth” published in January 2008.
More information on "The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth", visit