Pregnant women are often discouraged from eating cold cut meats, such as lunchmeat sandwiches. This can expand to include hot dogs. However, you can still enjoy hot dogs.
If you’d like to eat hot dogs while pregnant, you’ll need to cook them to at least 160 degrees before consuming them to make sure that it doesn’t have a negative impact on your developing baby.
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Why Are Hot Dogs Dangerous During Pregnancy?
Hot dogs, just like lunchmeats, can contain a harmful bacteria called Listeria.
This can cause Listeriosis, a dangerous condition that can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects. Some hot dogs will contain this bacteria, and others may get contaminated when they are being packaged.
What Is Listeriosis?
Listeriosis is a condition that is caused by a type of bacteria called Listeria. Sometimes, it’s referred to as a germ. The technical term for Listeria is Listeria Monocytogenes.
People that fall into one of these groups are more likely to get Listeriosis than other people:
- Pregnant women
- Older adults
- People with a compromised immune system
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This is why it’s suddenly not safe to consume certain things when you’re pregnant although you could before you got pregnant. Typically, our immune system can easily kill off the bacteria.
If it doesn’t we usually only get mildly sick. However, when you are pregnant your immune system is weaker. That means that you’re more likely to get sick with Listeriosis than you were prior to getting pregnant.
Symptoms Of Listeriosis
While most people think that Listeriosis is like food poisoning, it’s quite different. You might not have symptoms for a couple of months after eating the contaminated food.
Some people have reported them starting the same day, and others state they started a little over two months later. This also tends to vary based on the person.
The symptoms don’t always include diarrhea, either. You may experience diarrhea, or you might not. The symptoms of Listeriosis tend to vary depending on the person. Common symptoms of Listeriosis during pregnancy include:
- Flu-like symptoms
People that aren’t pregnant are known to experience more muscle aches, confusion, loss of balance and they might have convulsions in addition to fever and digestive symptoms.
While these are not common symptoms of Listeriosis in pregnant women, it’s not impossible to experience them if you have Listeriosis while pregnant either.
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Listeriosis Complications During Pregnancy
When a pregnant woman gets Listeriosis it can spread to the unborn fetus through the placenta.
(Before you read this next part, it’s important to note that Listeriosis is easily treatable with antibiotics. You’re not instantly going to have a miscarriage because you ate one raw hot dog.)
This can be very dangerous for both the mother and the baby. In 1/5 of reported cases, the fetus will die. Although less likely, and only occurring in approximately 3% of cases, the newborn may die shortly after being born.
Although the most concerning complications of Listeriosis are miscarriage, newborn death, and the baby being stillborn, they are not the only ones. Other complications can include:
- Pre-term labor
- Low birth weight
If a mother gets Listeriosis, there’s a chance that she can spread it to her baby. The baby is more likely to suffer from Listeriosis after being born. Complications can occur, which include:
- Infections, including infections of the blood
Your baby can also take antibiotics to prevent complications from Listeriosis. If these are taken during pregnancy, it can prevent your little one from getting Listeriosis.
How Do They Diagnose Listeriosis?
To diagnose Listeriosis, doctors will take a sample of blood, placenta, or, on rare occasions, spinal fluid. This is how doctors diagnose Listeria poisoning. Some doctors prefer not to do lab work if there are no symptoms.
Others will do lab work within four weeks of eating potentially contaminated foods even in the absence of symptoms just to make sure. If you’re concerned that you’ve eaten contaminated food, contact your primary care provider and follow their instructions.
What Is The Treatment For Listeriosis?
The common treatment for Listeria poisoning is a course of antibiotics. Taking antibiotics can prevent your baby from getting the condition, and can prevent complications from Listeriosis.
Newborns that are born with the condition can also take antibiotics for treatment. Complications typically occur in untreated Listeriosis and are unlikely to happen when the condition is properly treated.
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How To Eat Hot Dogs When You’re Pregnant
Although Listeriosis is a risk, there are things that you can do to enjoy your favorite foods, like hot dogs, and still, have a healthy pregnancy.
Listeria dies once foods reach a certain temperature, as do most other bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. As long as the hot dog is cooked to 160 degrees, you’ll be fine.
Some people say that boiling a hot dog or making sure that it’s steaming when you cut it open is a great way to determine whether an internal temperature of 160 degrees was achieved, but a meat thermometer is the best way.
This will give you an accurate internal temperature of the hot dog, so you know that both you and your baby are going to be safe. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can pick them up relatively cheap on Amazon.
Simply poke it into the middle of the hot dog and it will tell you the temperature. (Keep in mind that you need to do this when you’re done cooking the hot dog. Do not let it sit on a plate and cool down first.)
Hot dogs can be a danger to pregnant women because they are at an increased risk of developing Listeriosis, which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and newborn death. However, if you make sure that hot dogs are cooked to the appropriate temperature, you’ll be just fine.