Once an infant has contracted listeriosis, newborn listeriosis survival is still possible. Do you know how to protect yourself and your newborn from contracting listeriosis?
What is Listeriosis?
When you are pregnant, you do everything possible to keep yourself and your unborn baby as healthy as possible. You eat right, exercise, and visit your obstetrician regularly. While of all of these steps are essential to having a successful pregnancy, labor, and delivery, serious problems can still occur.
Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that causes listeriosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 2,500 people are infected with listeriosis each year. About one in five people infected with this disease die. Listeria can be passed to a fetus through the placenta, and the results could be miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, severe health problems and even death for a newborn. Thus, newborn listeriosis survival is a very serious issue!
Where Is Listeria?
Where can this bacteria be found? Virtually anywhere! Listeria is evident on plants, animals, and people, and in dirt and water. People can be carriers of the bacteria without actually becoming sick. Because the bacteria are so widespread, it is surprising that such a limited amount of people become infected with the disease each year.
In most cases, people are infected from ingesting contaminated foods. Some people are more at risk at contracting the disease than others, and these include the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, unborn babies, and newborns.
Why Are Pregnant Women in Danger?
Pregnant women are often more susceptible to contracting listeriosis because of hormonal changes. In fact, pregnant women make up as much as one-third of those who contract listeriosis simply because hormonal changes wreak havoc on an expectant mother's immune system. Once a mother contracts listeriosis, she can pass it on to her newborn. For the mother, the symptoms may be mild. For her unborn child, however, they can be deadly.
What Are the Symptoms and Treatment?
Listeriosis is often mistaken for the flu, with symptoms ranging from chills, fever, and muscle aches. Other symptoms can include diarrhea, nausea, and headaches. If you suspect that you might have been exposed to listeriosis or that you are exhibiting some of the symptoms, you should contact your doctor. He or she can perform a simple blood test to determine if you are infected. If you and/or your baby has been diagnosed with listeriosis, a regimen of antibiotics will be given. This is typically for 10 days and may be given intravenously.
How Can Listeriosis be Avoided?
Because listeriosis is typically spread through contaminated foods, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has provided a list of foods that should be avoided by at-risk people, including pregnant women.
- Hot dogs, deli or luncheon meats: If you do eat these, make sure they are heated until steaming hot.
- Soft cheeses: These include Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, feta, Brie, and Mexican-styled cheeses. (Safe cheese includes hard and semi-soft cheeses like cottage cheese, cream cheese, pasteurized processed cheese slices and spreads, and mozzarella.)
- Refrigerated pate or meat spreads: However, you can eat canned or shelf-stable pate and meat spreads.
- Refrigerated or smoked seafood: These include salmon, trout, whitefish, tuna, mackerel, and cod. (Safe seafood includes canned salmon and tuna or shelf-stable smoked seafood.)
- Unpasteurized milk: This includes foods that contain unpasteurized milk.
How Can Foods Be Kept Safe?
The FDA advises everyone to follow the food safety precautions below:
- Use a refrigerator thermometer to ensure that the temperature remains at or below 40 degrees. F.
- Clean refrigerators on a regular basis.
- Eat precooked, ready-to-eat, and other perishable foods as soon as possible.
- Cook foods thoroughly and properly.
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
Possibility of Newborn Surviving Listeriosis
With quick diagnosis and treatment, newborn listeriosis survival is possible. If you notice that your baby is experiencing difficulty breathing, lethargy, irritability, feeding difficulty, or vomiting, or cries in a high-pitched voice, you should call your doctor immediately.