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Updated on 11 January 2024
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Shruti Tanwar
C-section & gynae problems - MBBS| MS (OBS & Gynae)
In the journey of pregnancy, every expecting parent dreams of a safe and healthy outcome. But amidst the joy and anticipation, the topic of foods that may pose a risk to the pregnancy can be both unsettling and mysterious. We've all heard the whispers about certain foods that can cause miscarriage, leaving us with a mix of curiosity and concern.
But here's the thing: separating myth from fact is crucial, especially when it comes to the health of both the mother and the growing life within. That's why we've delved deep into the scientific literature to uncover the truth about 18 foods linked to miscarriage.
From spicy dishes and exotic fruits to common kitchen ingredients, join us as we embark on a myth-busting journey to shed light on what food causes miscarriage and should be approached with caution during pregnancy.
There are several foods that look as if they mean no harm to pregnant women but in reality, consuming them can do more harm than good to not just you but your baby as well. Here is a list of foods that cause abortion or miscarriage and must only be consumed in quantity recommended by your doctor:
For all those pregnant ladies who love pineapples, the bad news is that pineapples will not be your go-to fruit during the first trimester of pregnancy. Unfortunately, pineapple is one of those foods that cause miscarriage or abortion. Pineapple juice is not allowed as well. The reason behind ditching pineapple during pregnancy is the presence of bromelain, which makes the uterine muscles soft and induces labour early. This is the reason why you should either avoid or eat pineapple in quantity recommended by your doctor during pregnancy.
Pregnant women must be cautious while consuming dairy products. Consumption of unpasteurized dairy products such as feta cheese, milk, mozzarella or any dairy product can be harmful to your unborn baby as it contains a dangerous bacteria called listeria. The presence of listeria can give birth to not just food poisoning but can also impose severe complications on you and your fetus. Therefore, it is best to consume only pasteurized dairy products during pregnancy.
You can expect the harmful bacteria listeria in canned seafood, just as listeria is present in unpasteurized dairy products. So, if you are thinking about which food can cause miscarriage, then canned seafood is one of them and must be avoided by pregnant women or taken in quantity recommended by your doctor to reduce the risk of miscarriages.
Also, pregnant women must avoid eating high-mercury seafood, especially fish like swordfish, crab, tilefish, shark, and king mackerel. Consumption of seafood high in mercury can lead to various complications, including brain damage in your fetus and delayed fetal development.
Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of sprouted potatoes. Solanin, a toxin found in high concentrations in green sprouts, is known to be harmful to a developing fetus' growth. It's also possible that it'll lead to a miscarriage. So, avoid eating sprouting potatoes, especially if you're expecting or nursing a baby.
Under normal conditions, the animal liver is a powerhouse of high nutrients. However, it becomes toxic and dangerous when it comes from infected animals. Pregnant women should steer clear of animal liver because it is a source of cholesterol and vitamin A.
Obstacles such as spina bifida, abnormalities of the urinary tract, and hydrocephalus can be caused by an excess of vitamin A in the mother's diet during pregnancy. Animal liver is definitely one of the things to avoid during pregnancy that cause miscarriage.
If you are thinking– can papaya cause miscarriage in early pregnancy, you can be assured that papaya (unripe) is one fruit you should avoid, especially during early pregnancy. Unfortunately, unripe papaya which is green in colour is full of enzymes that induce uterine contractions that can eventually lead to a miscarriage. You can eat ripe papaya in moderation after consulting your dietician or gynaecologist.
Drumstick can be the favourite of many and is even rich in potassium, vitamin C, iron, calcium and vitamins. However, due to the presence of alpha-sitosterol in drumsticks, it is regarded among the foods that cause miscarriage. The reaction of alpha-sitosterol can be understood as the same reaction that estrogen (female hormone) causes. Both of these can lead to smoothening of uterine muscles, increasing the chances of miscarriages. Consequently, it's best to eat miscarriage foods like drumsticks in moderation or as directed by your dietician.
Aloe Vera is not just great for your skin and hair but also for your digestive system. However, surprisingly, aloe vera fails to work its magic on pregnant women as it could result in pelvic haemorrhage that could eventually result in a miscarriage. Hence, it is recommended that you either consume aloe vera moderately or as directed by your doctor during the first and second trimesters of your pregnancy. This is one of the foods that cause miscarriage in second trimester and must be avoided.
Eggs, which are considered a good source of protein, can actually hurt a pregnant woman if they are eaten raw. Therefore, mayonnaise, soufflés, and mousses made with raw eggs should be avoided. Food illness and even miscarriage are all possible side effects of ingesting raw or undercooked eggs because of the salmonella bacteria that reside in them. On the other hand, cooked eggs are okay to eat while pregnant.
There is no doubt about the fact that crabs are a great source of calcium. However, one cannot deny the presence of high levels of cholesterol in crabs. As a result, the consumption of crabs can shrink your uterus and eventually make way for internal bleeding and miscarriage. Therefore, the best way is to avoid altogether consuming crabs during pregnancy.
Pregnant women should avoid eating peaches or eat them in moderation since they can increase the risk of bleeding. This delicious fruit's hairy shell is especially hazardous. It is possible to suffer severe repercussions such as miscarriage as a result of the burning and itchy sensation in the throat.
There is no concrete study or research that bans caffeine intake completely. However, you should consume caffeine as moderately as possible. If caffeine becomes an addiction, it can be really harmful to your baby and even result in an underweight baby or a miscarriage.
Most experts recommend not to take herbs while you're pregnant. Herbs containing steroids can hurt the baby's growth while in the womb. A herb called Centella could do bad things to the liver, which could cause jaundice and damage the baby's brain. Dong Quai has stuff in it that can cause miscarriage or premature birth. Hence, it's best to avoid these foods linked to miscarriage unless recommended by your doctor.
Processed meat could also be one of those foods that cause abortion during pregnancy. When pregnant women consume processed meats such as stuffed meat, minced meat, deli meat, sausages, salami, pate, and pepperoni, it could be detrimental to their health. Even generally, it's recommended to avoid eating processed meat.
Pregnant women should eat a diet rich in green leafy vegetables. Toxoplasma gondii, a common parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, can be found in raw or unwashed vegetables. It is possible for an infected pregnant lady to transmit her illness to her unborn child. Soaking veggies in clean saltwater and washing them under running water before eating is therefore essential. Make sure the used cutlery is cleaned and sanitised as well.
Getting pregnant is a clear indication for women who consume alcohol to stop it completely. In addition to harming the foetus' brain development, alcohol consumption during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Furthermore, even a minuscule amount can cause birth problems such as facial deformities, heart defects, and intellectual difficulties in the child.
There is no doubt that adding spices to a dish enhances its flavour. However, pregnant women should not overindulge in spices like asafoetida, garlic, fenugreek, angelica, and peppermint. These spices can cause contractions, premature labour, and miscarriage in the uterus. Certain spices can also result in blood thinning and may start bleeding as well. So, eat them in moderation or as directed by your doctor.
Sesame seeds should not be consumed in excess by pregnant women. This is because the combination of honey and sesame seeds can cause miscarriage. However, black sesame seeds can be taken in the final weeks of pregnancy since they aid in a more natural delivery.
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that watermelon can cause a miscarriage. Watermelon is a nutritious fruit that is generally safe to consume during pregnancy, as long as it is washed thoroughly before consumption.
Although cinnamon is among the foods linked to miscarriage, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that it can cause a miscarriage. However, it's always important to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice on what foods or substances to avoid during pregnancy.
No, there is no scientific evidence to support the belief that spicy food causes miscarriage. This is a common myth that has been debunked. Eating spicy food during pregnancy is generally safe as long as it is consumed in moderation. However, it is important to note that some women may experience side effects such as heartburn and indigestion from consuming spicy food.
In conclusion, it's essential to approach the topic of foods that can cause miscarriage with caution and skepticism. Throughout our exploration, we have discovered that many of the rumors surrounding these miscarriage foods are based on outdated beliefs, cultural myths, and anecdotal stories rather than scientific evidence. While it's true that certain foods and substances can pose risks during pregnancy, the key to a healthy pregnancy lies in moderation, balance, and informed decision-making. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a qualified nutritionist can provide personalized guidance and support, ensuring that you make the best choices for you and your growing baby.
1. Debosree Ghosh. (2019). Forbidden Foods for Healthy Pregnancy. researchgate.net
2. Elisabetta Di Cintio, Fabio Parazzini, Liliane Chatenoud, Matteo Surace, Guido Benzi, Giovanni Zanconato, Carlo La Vecchia. (2001). Dietary factors and risk of spontaneous abortion. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
3. Gaskins AJ, Rich-Edwards JW, Hauser R, Williams PL, Gillman MW, Penzias A, Missmer SA, Chavarro JE. (2014). Prepregnancy dietary patterns and risk of pregnancy loss. NCBI
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Shruti Tanwar
C-section & gynae problems - MBBS| MS (OBS & Gynae)
Anupama Chadha, born and raised in Delhi is a content writer who has written extensively for industries such as HR, Healthcare, Finance, Retail and Tech.Read More
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