Should you give up cheese when you are pregnant? No, you just need to know which types do not hide too many risks for the health of the mother and fetus
Cheese in pregnancy
During pregnancy, attention tosupply it is one of the aspects which should be paid more attention. In fact, not only everything that is taken by the mother nourishes the fetus which is developing in the uterus, but it will affect the growth of the baby even for a long time after giving birth.
To this it must be added that some foods and certain ways of consuming them (eg raw) can hide pitfalls (eg toxoplasmosis) that can jeopardize the health of mother and child. Among these foods to be consumed with attention are the dairy product and dairy products (cheeses), which must not be excluded a priori from a pregnancy diet, but must be selected carefully.
What are the dangers of cheese in pregnancy?
The main pitfall of some cheeses and dairy products is the possibility of introducing them into the organism harmful bacteria how staphylococci, Salmonella, L’Esterichia Coli or the Campylobacter, responsible for infections and intoxications which, if contracted during pregnancy, can impair fetal development, increase the risk of premature birth or, in the worst cases, lead to an abortion.
Another great danger is represented by another bacterium – Listeria monocytogenes – which lurks in molds of blue cheeses and is responsible for listeriosis, a rather rare foodborne infection but which can cause many problems for the fetus (even in the long term).
However, these harmful microorganisms are found in products derived from fresh milk or not pasteurized, therefore not all cheeses are to be banned from the diet of a pregnant woman.
Cheeses in pregnancy: which to eat and which to avoid
Cheeses, by themselves, are great foods for a pregnant woman as they are rich in proteins, minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium – a panacea for the mother’s bones and the growth of those of the child – as well as vitamins, one above all the B12, the synthesis of red blood cells is fundamental for the bone marrow. However, precisely because of the possibility that they become vehicles for infections and intoxications, not all cheeses are recommended during gestation.
What to avoid
- Blue cheeses: cheeses such as gorgonzola, castelmagno, roquefort or stilton are covered with light layers of mold that can hide bacteria responsible for listeriosis. However, if they are cooked they also become edible for future mothers.
- Soft cheeses: soft dairy products such as brie, camembert or taleggio, if they are not made with pasteurized milk, should be avoided. Here, too, cooking makes these foods acceptable even in case of pregnancy.
- Unpasteurized cheeses made from raw milk: even if of quality, cheeses not subjected to the pasteurization process (the thermal restoration that eliminates any pathogens) are absolutely to be avoided. This category includes, for example, many artisanal cheeses – those “from the farmer” – which, although genuine, are not totally safe during pregnancy.
What can you eat
- Hard or semi-hard cheeses: products such as fontina, asiago, emmental or pecorino are absolutely safe
- Grana and Parmesan and aged cheeses: these cheeses, even if they are not made with pasteurized milk, undergo a maturing process that eliminates any risk for pregnant women.
- Mozzarella cheese: made with pasteurized milk, therefore safe.
- Fresh unfermented cheeses: ricotta, robiola, spreadable cheeses, etc.
- Pasteurized or cooked cheeses.
NB: what makes a type of cheese safe for pregnant women is the processing, not the origin, therefore the distinctions between cow’s and sheep’s milk cheeses it has no region of being.
SOURCES: NHS, BabyCentre
Questions and answers
Which cheeses are not allowed to eat during pregnancy?
Cheeses made with unpasteurized milk or with molds (ex: Gorgonzola)