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.