Committee Opinion No. 614: Management of pregnant women with presumptive exposure to Listeria monocytogenes

Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Dec;124(6):1241-1244. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000457501.73326.6c.


Listeriosis is predominantly a foodborne illness, with sporadic and outbreak-related cases tied to consumption of food contaminated with listeria (Listeria monocytogenes). The incidence of listeriosis associated with pregnancy is approximately 13 times higher than in the general population. Maternal infection may present as a nonspecific, flu-like illness with fever, myalgia, backache, and headache, often preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. However, fetal and neonatal infections can be severe, leading to fetal loss, preterm labor, neonatal sepsis, meningitis, and death. Pregnant women have been advised to avoid foods with a high risk of contamination with listeria. An exposed pregnant woman with a fever higher than 38.1°C (100.6°F) and signs and symptoms consistent with listeriosis for whom no other cause of illness is known should be simultaneously tested and treated for presumptive listeriosis. No testing, including blood and stool cultures, or treatment is indicated for an asymptomatic pregnant woman who reports consumption of a product that was recalled or implicated during an outbreak of listeria contamination. A pregnant woman who ate a product that was recalled because of listeria contamination and who is afebrile but has signs and symptoms consistent with a minor gastrointestinal or flu-like illness can be managed expectantly.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Listeriosis*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious*