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Can Pregnant People Eat Brats?

by
author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Can Pregnant People Eat Brats?
A plate of bratwurst. Photo Credit HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images

Eating for two during pregnancy can mean making several changes to your diet. This is because while your immune system doesn't function as effectively udring pregnancy as it normally does. Bacteria that wouldn't typically affect you can cause unexpected illness when you're pregnant. Bratwurst is an example of a food that could be harmful in pregnancy, if not properly cooked. Knowing how to safely prepare brats can keep you and your baby healthy.

Potential Risks

Pregnant women need to take care when consuming certain foods during pregnancy, Foodsafety.gov cautions. The list includes sausages such as bratwust, often called brats, Hot dogs, lunchmeats, cold cuts and deli-style meats are also on this list. These meats have a higher risk of containing listeria, a bacteria that can be harmful to pregnant women. Never consume uncooked bratwursts, even if the food label states that it's been pre-cooked. Soft cheeses and refriigerated meat pates can also carry the bacteria.

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Listeria

The full bacterial name for listeria is listeria monocytogenes. While listeria infections are rare, pregnant women are at higher risk than their non-pregnant counterparts for experiencing this type of infection. This is because your immune system is lowered during pregnancy so your body doesn't reject your growing baby as foreign. Bratwursts can become contaminated after the cooking process or before packaging, providing two opportunities for the meat to become infected. If you've eaten undercooked bratwurst while pregnant, be aware of listeria symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, fever and nausea. Symptoms initially resemble a mild flu, which is why listeria can be difficult to diagnose until it has progressed.

Cooking Precautions

You can consume bratwursts if you thoroughly cook them. If the meats are pre-cooked, you must heat them to the point where they are steaming hot. Cooking can kill listeria, so the heat from a microwave or boiling them will help to kill the bacteria. Also, if you have a meat thermometer, you can check the internal temperature of a bratwurst to ensure it is at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit -- this is the temperature required to kill listeria in foods.

Consequences

Eating bratwursts infected with listeria and improperly cooked can have serious consequences, including a risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, infection and stillbirth. If detected early enough, your physician can prescribe antibiotics to reduce infection. If your baby is born with listeriosis -- the condition listeria causes -- your physician can prescribe antibiotics.

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