What food can cause a miscarriage

Pregnancy - Which Foods Should I Avoid?

Diet during pregnancy is an important factor in the health of the expectant mother and the unborn child. The menu should be varied and healthy and should essentially be based on the general rules for a balanced diet.

In addition, some nutrients must be supplied in higher concentrations during pregnancy in order to meet the increased requirement.

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However, there are also foods that should be avoided during pregnancy. These include foods that are associated with an increased risk of food infections from bacteria or parasites. Infections of this kind can have serious health consequences, especially for the unborn child, and in the worst case even lead to premature birth or miscarriage.

Dairy productsEggsfleshfishbeverages
unpasteurized milkraw eggsraw meatraw fishalcohol
Raw milk productssoft-boiled (semi-raw) eggsBeef tartaresushibeverages containing quinine
Soft cheese (camembert, brie)TiramisuCarpaccioOystersIn moderation: beverages containing caffeine
raw goat milk productsMousse au ChocolatRaw sausages (Mett- & Teewurst)Shrimp 
raw sheep milk products Offalsmoked salmon 

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Raw milk and raw milk products

Raw milk (unpasteurized milk) and raw milk products such as soft cheese (e.g. camembert, brie, blue cheese) should be avoided during pregnancy. This also applies to raw milk products from goats or sheep. With these products there is a fundamental risk of becoming infected with Listeria.

Listeriosis is usually harmless for the mother with flu-like symptoms such as fever, nausea and vomiting. However, if the infection is transmitted to the unborn child, this can lead to miscarriage or premature birth, increased infant mortality, and neurological sequelae and long-term complications.

+++ More on the topic: Listeriosis in pregnancy +++

Cheeses made from pasteurized milk and hard cheese can be eaten without hesitation, but the edges should be carefully removed beforehand.


Eggs that are raw or semi-raw (soft-boiled) should be avoided during pregnancy as they pose a risk of salmonella infection. Severe Salmonella infection causes abdominal cramps, vomiting, and watery diarrhea; In the worst case, infection of the unborn child can lead to miscarriage or premature birth.

Food made with raw or semi-raw eggs, such as tiramisu, chocolate mousse or homemade mayonnaise, should also be avoided.

Hard-boiled eggs as well as fried eggs, egg dishes or mayonnaise from the tube are usually harmless.


Theoretically, there is also the possibility of becoming infected with salmonella when consuming ice cream. Open ice should be avoided, especially when it comes to hygienically questionable ice cream sales outlets. However, expectant mothers are allowed to treat themselves to a "Stanitzel" every now and then, but should rather use industrially produced or packaged ice cream.

All kinds of fruits and vegetables

It is important to wash and peel fruit and vegetables well. In the case of vegetables and lettuce, it should be taken into account that soil and dust can contain Listeria and thus there is a risk of infection. In addition, garden beds are often used by cats as a toilet, which means that there is a certain risk of toxoplasmosis infection if consumed raw.

Raw vegetables or vegetable juices should therefore be avoided, as well as ready-made sandwiches or pre-cut salads.

For everyone who wants to be on the safe side - especially if there is a lack of immunity to toxoplasmosis - the motto for food intake in southern countries is: "Boil, peel or leave!"

Raw meat, raw sausage

Meat should always be enjoyed “well” during pregnancy. Raw meat, such as beef tartare or carpaccio, or meat that is not fully cooked can contain tissue cysts from toxoplasmas and should be avoided by pregnant women.

+++ More on the topic: Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy +++

Even tasting raw meat is enough for an infection under the most unfavorable circumstances. Toxoplasmosis usually runs without symptoms for healthy people; However, an infection of the unborn child can, depending on the time of infection, lead to miscarriage and premature birth, deformities or late or consequential damage (e.g. eye damage).

The same applies to briefly ripened raw sausages, such as meat or tea sausages. Raw ham (e.g. prosciutto, Parma ham) or solid raw sausages (e.g. salami, kabanossi) usually have a very long ripening time and thus pose a lower risk of infection with toxoplasmosis. Industrially processed, thermally treated sausage products are also relatively harmless, provided that all hygiene regulations have been observed during production and storage.

When preparing meat dishes, pork and lamb in particular should be heated to over 70 ° C for several minutes. Freezing below –20 ° C for at least three days also kills toxoplasma tissue cysts in meat. Raw or unfinished cooked or fried poultry meat carries the risk of infection with salmonella - here too, care should be taken to consume the meat well.

Offal (liver, kidney)

Offal such as the liver or kidneys contain heavy metals that can lead to developmental disorders, damage or deformities in the unborn child. These foods should be consumed very little, if at all.

Raw fish

Raw fish (sushi, oysters, shrimp) should also be avoided during pregnancy because of the risk of infection with listeria and various germs. The same applies to marinated, uncooked fish (e.g. herring) and cold or hot smoked fish products (e.g. smoked salmon). Cooked or fried, however, fish is an important source of unsaturated fatty acids and is healthy for both mother and child.

Larger predatory fish such as tuna and shark, as well as various seafood, are occasionally contaminated with heavy metals (especially mercury) and should not be consumed excessively.

Substances that induce labor

Some food ingredients or spices can trigger labor and should therefore not be consumed or consumed excessively during pregnancy. These include:


This chemical compound is found in some medicines and in tonic drinks (tonic and bitter lemon). Ingestion should be avoided throughout pregnancy due to the inducing effect.

Sugar substitutes

Sugar substitutes (e.g. sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol) can cause intestinal cramps and thus trigger labor. These substances are found in sugar-free confectionery such as chewing gum or chewy candy and should only be taken in small quantities.


Spices such as cinnamon, curry, marjoram, thyme, cloves, ginger or coriander are harmless in the usual amounts; in larger quantities, however, they can induce labor.

What else should be considered?

In addition to avoiding the foods mentioned, the risk of food infection can be reduced through careful hygiene measures:

  • The most important measure is to wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food or after coming into contact with raw meat or other raw foods so as not to transmit any pathogens that may be present.
  • During storage, care should be taken to ensure that raw food does not come into contact with prepared food. Cutting boards or other kitchen utensils that have come into contact with raw meat must also be washed thoroughly before other foods are prepared on them. In addition, food that is contaminated with soil (e.g. potatoes, carrots) should be stored separately.
  • Sponges and kitchen towels should be replaced regularly.
  • The expiry date of food should be carefully observed during pregnancy, and rotten fruit must not be eaten or processed.
  • Frozen food should not be reheated more than once.
  • If possible, sausage and cheese should always be freshly sliced ​​just before consumption. Pre-packaged products pose a higher risk of food infection, as some germs can also multiply in vacuum packaging. In any case, packaged products should be consumed as soon as possible after opening.
  • The refrigerator should be defrosted and thoroughly cleaned every four weeks.

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Kerstin Lehermayr
Medical review:
Helga Quirgst MSc
Editorial editing:
Dr. med. Christian Maté

Updated on:

Homepage of the Austrian Nutrition Society - ÖGE: www.oege.at (accessed on June 4, 2013)

Austrian Federal Ministry of Health - BMG: The Austrian food pyramid for pregnant women; http://bmg.gv.at/home/Schwerpunkte/Ernaehrung/Empfehler/Die_oesterreichische_Ernaehrungspyramide_fuer_Schwangere (accessed on June 4, 2013)

Homepage of the German Nutrition Society: www.dge.de (accessed on June 4, 2013)

German Federal Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection: Diet during pregnancy; www.gesundinsleben.de/fuer-fachkraefte/handlungsempfäden/schwangerschaft/ernaehrweise-in-der-schwangerschaft/ (accessed on June 4, 2013)

Nowitzky-Grimm S, Grimm P: Nutrition during pregnancy and lactation. In: Biesalski HK, Bischoff SC, Puchstein C (ed.): Nutritional medicine. Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart, 4th edition 2010, chap. 22; Pp. 347-357

Hanreich I: Eating and drinking - the desire to have children, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Verlag I. Hanreich, Vienna, 1st edition 2006

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