Why Are Pregnant Women Told to Avoid Feta Cheese?

Parents > Q&A > Pregnancy and Infants > Why Are Pregnant Women Told to Avoid Feta Cheese?
Why Are Pregnant Women Told to Avoid Feta Cheese?

I love to eat cheese but I am pregnant. And I know that there are some cheeses that pregnant women shouldn't eat. Which ones should I avoid?
- Louise

Soft, unpasteurized cheeses like feta, Brie, Camembert, and goat — as well as ready-to-eat meats like hot dogs and deli meats — may contain Listeria, bacteria that cause mild flu-like symptoms in most adults but can be very dangerous for unborn babies. Listeriosis, the infection caused by the bacteria, can cause miscarriage, premature birth, or severe illness or death of a newborn.

When made from pasteurized milk, most soft cheeses are considered safe to eat during pregnancy. That goes for other cheeses made from pasteurized milk too, such as cheddar, American, cottage, and cream cheeses. Always make sure the label says "pasteurized" on it, and talk to your doctor if you aren't sure about a certain cheese.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: October 2012

Related Articles
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2014 KidsHealth® All rights reserved. Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com