Nutrition and listeriosis during pregnancy: a systematic review

J Nutr Sci. 2018 Sep 24:7:e25. doi: 10.1017/jns.2018.16. eCollection 2018.


Listeriosis is a rare but severe foodborne illness which is more common in populations such as pregnant women, and can result in serious complications including miscarriage, prematurity, maternal and neonatal sepsis, and death in the newborn. Population recommendations exist for specific foods and food preparation practices to reduce listeriosis risk during pregnancy. The aim of the present systematic review was to assess the association between listeriosis and these practices during pregnancy to confirm appropriateness of these recommendations. We searched MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL Plus, Web of Science Core Collection, included articles' references, and contacted clinical experts. All databases were searched until July 2017. Case-control and cohort studies were included which assessed pregnant women or their newborn offspring with known listeriosis status and a nutritional exposure consistent with international population recommendations for minimising listeriosis. Outcomes included listeriosis with or without pregnancy outcomes. Risk of bias was assessed through the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Results were described narratively due to clinical heterogeneity in differences in nutritional exposures. Eleven articles comprising case-control or cross-sectional studies met the inclusion criteria. Cases of maternal, fetal or neonate listeriosis were more likely to have consumed high-risk dairy products, meat products or some fruits during pregnancy in comparison with women without listeriosis. Cases of listeriosis were more likely to have consumed foods that are highlighted in population guidelines to avoid to minimise listeriosis in comparison with those without listeriosis during pregnancy. Further research is warranted assessing means of improving the reach, uptake and generalisability of population guidelines for reducing listeriosis during pregnancy.

Keywords: Food; Listeria monocytogenes; Listeriosis; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review