Rob Mancini, a MS graduate of Kansas State University and a health inspector with the Manitoba Department of Health writes:
My wife and I are trying for baby number 2 and food safety is always on my mind. Listeria monocytogenes presents a significant risk to pregnant women and as such there are certain foods expected moms should avoid, like deli meats, hot dogs that have not undergone a cooking process, soft cheeses, meat spreads, raw milk, and others.
Many medical doctors are not completely aware of all the foods that must be avoided during pregnancy, for instance, avoiding the consumption of raw sprouts. The Internet doesn’t help either. I did a random interview of 40 expectant women in the grocery store to determine if they would consume raw sprouts during their pregnancy. Ninety per cent of the interviewed women said that they would consume raw sprouts due to their nutritional value. This was disturbing. Public health types, including myself, have to do a better job in communicating the risks and more importantly that the message is factual and consistent.
KETV reports that the family of a baby, hospitalized at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, wants to warn other expecting mothers and new parents about the illness that made their son extremely sick.
Ezra Armstrong entered the world at a whopping 9-plus pounds, and the ‘big guy’ is still adding to that.“He’s drinking four ounces every two hours,” said his mother, Lucinda. “Gaining weight like a pro.”
Lucinda, also mom to 2-year-old Lena, knows the difference between ‘I’m hungry’ cries and when something is wrong. She was on high alert in May, when Ezra was just two weeks old.“He was red all day, he pretty much cried his eyes out all day and then when we took his temperature at night time it was bad,” said Armstrong. “That was when we decided to go to the hospital.”Ezra had a fever of 101.6, dangerously high for a newborn. The Armstrongs rushed their baby to Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs. Doctors performed several tests, and a spinal tap revealed Ezra had meningitis, an infection of the coverings of the brain. Ezra was immediately transported to Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha. Doctors, including Division Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Dr. Kari Simonsen, determined Ezra had listeria meningitis.
“Listeria is a particular type of bacteria that’s known to cause meningitis, particularly in susceptible patients; infants are one of the most susceptible,” said Dr. Simonsen. “Most babies get it around the time of delivery from their mother, who’s acquired it usually from a food.”
Dr. Simonsen said refrigerated meats and cheeses and deli products usually served cold host the listeria bacteria, which can live at the refrigerated temperature.
“Often times, the mom won’t become clinically ill because of her normal immune system,” said Dr. Simonsen. Babies’ immature immune systems cannot fight off the bacteria. Dr. Simonsen says it is important to note listeria meningitis is not contagious; you cannot spread the infection person to person.
Doctors are now helping Ezra’s tiny body battle the infection.
“They said he was in pretty bad shape,” said Armstrong. “They said we probably would’ve lost him if this would’ve gone untreated.”
Ezra is improving every day; doctors will watch him closely but Dr. Simonsen says many patients have normal outcomes.
“I think the main takeaway for moms would be to listen to your obstetrician’s advice,” said Dr. Simonsen. “In this case, those foods that might be dangerous for moms to consume while pregnant.”
Lucinda Armstrong also has a message for parents.
“I’d tell them to go with their gut,” said Lucinda. “If they feel something’s wrong, it’s much better going to the hospital and figuring out nothing is wrong rather than not going, then to figure out something bad happened.”
It’s not clear how long Ezra will have to stay in the hospital. Lucinda and her husband, Greg, plan to stay with their baby until they can take him home.
“[I was] sitting here thinking about it and I just broke down in tears because I think of how bad it could’ve been if it would’ve gone untreated,” said Lucinda. “If we wouldn’t have thought anything of it at the time, we could’ve lost him.
(That’s pregnant Amy, not pregnant Rob’s partner)