Listeria and Pregnancy: Erin’s Story

Erin was at her own baby shower when a bite of cheese sent her life and her daughter’s health into a tailspin. Although listeriosis (the illness from ingesting Listeria) is rare, pregnant women are 20 times more likely to become infected than non-pregnant healthy adults. Watch Erin’s Story above.

Learn more about food safety. You can also visit the CDC website to learn more about preventing listeriosis in pregnancy.

Have you experienced something similar, tell us your story below.

Show Transcript

MATT: We were having a good time waiting for the big day. When they told us that she had listeria, we had no idea what it was-- absolutely no clue.

ERIN: Matt and I wanted a child. We gave ourselves a three month window, and,low and behold,we got pregnant. At my baby shower, we had just a handful of girlfriends, presents, cake, fruit, vegetables, and the lovely cheese tray.

MATT: It started, I think, on Monday. By Wednesday, she had a fever. It was 102.4.Doctor said, take her to the emergency room. And they checked the baby. Alison was in distress, her heartbeat was dropping.

ERIN: And that's when they said you are going to have a baby tonight. And I was like, I'm only 33 weeks.

MATT: You have this frail little being. And she's got eight tubes running in and out of her.

ERIN: She was considered septic. They had to do rounds of massive antibiotics 24 hours a day. It wasn't until afterwards I learned you stay away from your deli meats, your soft cheeses. I didn't know that it could harbor pathogens like listeria. Alison today is headstrong, feisty, a spitfire, and the light of my life. She is strong, and that's what I love.

ALISON: Looking at me when I was in the NICU,you see tubes, and monitors, and everything. I feel lucky that I am alive.

ERIN: Listeria caused prematurity. It runs its own game.

ALISON: It's harder for me to learn. But I'm catching up to the other kids.

MATT: Today, she's very much a normal teenager.And if she can't play softball, she's miserable.

ERIN: Food safety, for me, is pay attention to your recalls,first and foremost. Pay attention to your cooking temperatures when it comes to your poultry, steak, hamburger.

MATT: We check everything we buy. We make sure it's in date.

ALISON: Every time we get new vegetables and things,mom washes them immediately.

ERIN: For a pregnant mom, pay attention to the doctor's list of foods to stay away from. But not everybody understands to stay away from your deli meats,unpasteurized cheeses, and soft cheese. Being a foodborne illness survivor, knowing that my child almost died,you don't take a day for granted.

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