Megnut has a great post on how she ate during pregnancy and why – instead of just following every one of the ridiculous list of items Not To Eat, she actually researched why you’re not supposed to eat them. If it crosses the placenta, it’s bad – listeria mostly affects pregnant women and harms the baby. Salmonella, on the other hand, well, it’s not fun, but Megnut writes it’s not really worse for pregnant women than anyone else.

It’s quite clear that the recommendations are far from objective truth. In the US, sushi is banned for pregnant women. In Japan, it’s highly recommended as very beneficial for pregnant women. In Norway and the US (and no doubt other countries), drinking any alcohol during pregnancy means you’re purposefully harming your unborn child. In Australia and the UK, they recommend you “consider abstinence”, and that if you do choose to drink, you should have a maximum of seven standard drinks a week if in Australia and four in the UK, and never more than one or two at a time. Apparently in Australia this policy was introduced in 2001, and reversed the previous (1992) recommendation that all pregnant women abstain completely from alcohol. (Source: review of policies on alcohol use during pregnancy in English speaking countries) In the Southern European countries, I think a glass of wine with dinner is assumed, even when you’re pregnant. The thing is, it’s quite clear that heavy drinking, especially binge drinking (five or more standard drinks on a single day), causes fetal damage that is often severe. But there appears to be no evidence whatsoever that moderate or light drinking (a glass of wine with dinner) causes fetal damage – but they haven’t been able to prove that it doesn’t so no wine for mum. Interestingly, the Australian review of policies found that only one country’s policies were based on a systematic review of the scientific literature on the topic: Great Britain.

And yes, we’ve been thinking a baby might be rather nice. I guess I’d better read up on listeria vs salmonella and sushi vs mercury. What with all the environmental poisons in our food, I expect there’s not really anything that’s really safe to eat.

2 thoughts on “conflicting advice for pregnant women

  1. Johan

    A colleague of Danish origin noted how what’s healthy for her during pregnancy changed as she crossed the ÷resund. In Sweden, health authorities preach total abstinence, while in Denmark they suggest that a glass of wine or two is not all that bad, since it is important that the mother-to-be feels good too. Similar confusion applies to eating recommendations while breast-feeding (it was debated here in Sweden about a year ago, that most of the recommendations given are not based on any scientific studies whatsoever, but simply an evil state conspiracy to discipline mothers).

  2. JoseAngel

    Well, eating and drinking dangerous food is better than not eating ordrinking at all. Which you might end up doing if you listen to everything they say.

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