Safe Diet for Pregnancy

S Stanner, British Nutrition Foundation, London, UK

© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

A balanced diet that contains adequate amounts of all the nutrients needed by a mother and her growing fetus is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women also need to be advised about how to reduce their risk of exposure to substances that may be toxic to the fetus during development (teratogenic) and therefore associated with the production of physical defects in the developing embryo (e.g., alcohol and excess vitamin A), as well as other dietary and lifestyle behaviors that could optimize maternal health and reduce the risk of health problems in their children.

The aim of this article is to describe evidence relating to food safety issues during pregnancy, including potential risks to the fetus as a result of prenatal exposure to food pathogens or toxic food components (e.g., heavy metals and dioxins) and the potentially harmful effects of high doses of alcohol, caffeine, and vitamin A.

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