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Why is Listeria so Dangerous for Pregnant Women?

 Posted on May 29, 2024 in Listeria

Chicago food poisoning lawyerListeria monocytogenes, the bacterium responsible for listeriosis, poses a significant threat to public health, especially for women who are pregnant and their unborn babies. In Illinois, food poisoning cases involving Listeria are taken seriously because of the potential for severe complications and even fatalities. An Illinois lawyer can help you understand the unique dangers Listeria presents to expectant mothers and the legal options available to those affected.

The Heightened Risk for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women have a roughly tenfold increased risk of contracting listeriosis compared to the general population. This increased susceptibility is attributed to the changes in the immune system during pregnancy, which are necessary to support the growing fetus. However, this temporary immune suppression also makes it more difficult for the mother’s body to fight off harmful bacteria like Listeria.

Listeria’s Ability to Cross the Placental Barrier

One of the most concerning aspects of Listeria is that it can cross the placental barrier, a feature that sets it apart from many other foodborne pathogens. When a pregnant woman contracts listeriosis, the bacteria can invade the placenta and potentially infect the developing fetus. This can lead to a range of severe complications, including:

  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth
  • Preterm labor
  • Neonatal sepsis
  • Meningitis in the newborn

The severity of these outcomes underscores the importance of preventing Listeria exposure during pregnancy and holding negligent food manufacturers and distributors accountable for their role in causing illness.

Possible Legal Options

Under Illinois law, food companies have a legal duty to ensure their products are safe for consumption and free from harmful contaminants like Listeria. If a pregnant woman contracts listeriosis from consuming contaminated food, she may be entitled to file a legal claim against the liable entities.

In such cases, a food poisoning lawyer in Illinois can help the victim navigate the legal process and seek compensation for the harm they have suffered. This may include damages for:

  • Medical expenses related to the illness and any resulting complications
  • Lost wages due to time off work
  • Pain and suffering endured by the mother and any impacted family members
  • Loss of consortium for the partner of the affected woman
  • Wrongful death damages in cases where the illness results in a miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death

Illinois follows a strict liability rule for food poisoning cases, which means there is no need to provide evidence of negligence on the part of the food company to recover damages. Instead, they must demonstrate that the contaminated food product was the source of their illness and that it was unreasonably dangerous when it left the control of the manufacturer or distributor.

Preventing Listeria Exposure During Pregnancy

While legal remedies are available to those who have been harmed by Listeria, preventing exposure in the first place is the best way to protect pregnant women and their unborn children. Some key steps expectant mothers can take to reduce their risk of contracting listeriosis include:

  • Avoiding raw or undercooked meats, poultry, and seafood
  • Thoroughly washing fresh produce before consumption
  • Avoiding unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk
  • Properly reheat deli meats and hot dogs until steaming hot
  • Practicing good food safety habits, such as regularly cleaning and sanitizing kitchen surfaces and refrigerating perishable foods promptly

Contact a Chicago, IL Food Poisoning Attorney

If you feel you have a case and can provide proof of where you contracted Listeria, a Chicago, IL, food poisoning lawyer is important to have on your side. Legal representation can help you navigate the legal process more easily. Call Newland & Newland, LLP at 312-981-0409 to start your free consultation.

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