MotherToBaby Arizona Urges Pregnant Women To Eat, Drink Wisely during Holidays


As invitations to holiday parties start to arrive, MotherToBaby Arizona alerts pregnant women to be cautious about the foods and beverages they sample at these get-togethers.

MotherToBaby Arizona is the new name for the free and confidential statewide public service that provides up-to-date information about the possible effects that drugs, chemicals, viruses and other exposures may have on a developing baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  The telephone service for pregnant and breastfeeding Arizona women and their health professionals was known as Arizona Pregnancy Riskline until this fall. It is a unit of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center located at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy in Tucson.

“During pregnancy, it’s very important to eat a healthy, balanced diet,” says Dee Quinn, director of MotherToBaby Arizona. “There also are particular foods and beverages that may pose risks to the unborn baby or cause illness in the mother. Because some of these foods are common to holiday menus, at this time of year we like to remind mothers-to-be to be watchful of what they decide to sample.”

MotherToBaby Arizona has posted the free handout “Foods and Drinks To Think About in Pregnancy” to its website. Chris Colón, a certified genetics counselor with MotherToBaby Arizona, stresses that alcohol in beverages and food is the first item listed to avoid.

“There is no safe level of alcohol established for pregnant women,” she says. “Alcohol crosses the placenta easily, and differences in genetics and metabolism of alcohol by both the mother and the developing baby may result in a wide range of risk. The risk may be different even in the same mother in different pregnancies. ”

Below are more of the points included in the handout.

  • Find out what’s in the holiday punch before you drink it, and remember that seasonal treats such as rum balls and eggnog may contain alcohol, too. Decline all alcohol while you are pregnant.
  • Soft cheeses such as Brie, feta and Camembert may contain the bacteria listeria monocytogenes. This bacteria may increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or premature labor; it is safest to avoid soft cheeses.
  • Refrigerated patés and smoked seafood  or meat spreads may contain bacteria that cause food poisoning. Only eat these ingredients if they are in a cooked dish, such as a casserole.
  • All fish contains mercury. Tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish and king mackerel should be avoided in pregnancy and white albacore tuna should be limited to about one meal per week.

During the holidays and year-round, MotherToBaby Arizona offers local and toll-free telephone service and email service to parents, potential parents and medical professionals in Arizona who want information, education and counseling about the possible effects of exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. MotherToBaby staff is available to receive and return calls Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. MST. Call 520-626-3410 or 888-285-3410. MotherToBaby Arizona is part of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information website at

Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy provides free and confidential poison and medication information to the public and healthcare professionals. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One of 55 centers that make up the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the Tucson center serves all of Arizona except Maricopa County. Call 1-800-222-1222 from any location to reach the poison center nearest you.

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