Oysters and Pregnancy

I know you are not supposed to drink or smoke while you are pregnant. Someone just told me that you are not supposed to eat oysters. Why is that?

The story with raw oysters is that they can carry a bacteria called Vibrio parahaemolyticus. This bacteria causes nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and in some individuals, abdominal cramps and fever. The illness is usually mild or moderate and for most people lasts two to three days. But for people with preexisting liver conditions such as hepatitis, compromised immune systems, diabetes, cancer, a history of steroid use or a history of stomach problems, it can be fatal.

The bacteria itself is no more dangerous for pregnant women than it is for other people. And a short illness in a pregnant woman is unlikely to cause any harm to the fetus. But pregnant women are specifically warned because the most common course of treatment for this infection is tetracycline. Tetracycline will shorten the duration of the symptoms, but pregnant women are dissuaded from using it because they can cause yellowing or discoloration if the infant's teeth, when they come in.

The best way to avoid the bacteria is cook shellfish thoroughly. This means doing more than just blanching them or steaming them to open the shell. The meat itself has to be well cooked. Because the bacteria multiply in high temperatures, infection is also more common during the summer months.

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