MSG and Pregnancy! Is it Dangerous for the Mother and Baby?

“Are you pregnant? Then don’t eat Chinese food or food that contains MSG”, say many, including your doctor.

But, have you ever wondered what MSG is and why it may (or may not) be dangerous for the pregnant mom and baby in womb?

Well, let’s make you more aware of facts and information behind MSG and Pregnancy and if it is dangerous for the mother and baby.

Pregnancy and Food Story

We all know that a woman when becomes pregnant goes through several transformation, physically, mentally and internally. Pregnancy puts you through quite a few hormonal changes and as the baby grows your body transforms many times to accommodate the little thing growing in you.

“A healthy pregnancy depends on what you eat every day. Due to hormonal changes, your food likings and appetite will drastically change. You may end up having aversion towards certain food over others, and it totally varies from person to person.

However, your doctor would always put you on simple, homemade, and organic food diet and ask you to avoid preservatives and additives due to food sensitivity to both foetus and mother.

One additive which you may have frequently heard about that has been asked to avoid is MSG or Monosodium Glutamate.

MSG and Pregnancy! Is it Dangerous for the Mother and Baby?

What Exactly is MSG?

Monosodium Glutamate or MSG is a taste enhancing food additive used mainly in Chinese cuisine. MSG is also found in preserved foods, ready to eat food, instant food, and canned food as well as in ice-creams.  MSG adds great taste and flavour in foods.

It is also found naturally in certain foods such as tomatoes, cheese and soy extracts.

The Food and Drug Association (FDA) has not found any proven ill effects in humans after consuming MSG and hence has marked it as a safe ingredient.

However, they have authorised that MSG should be listed compulsorily under the ingredients section in food packaging.


Some people have reported to be allergic to MSG and have experienced headaches to the extent of migraines, dizziness and nausea and vomiting.

MSG and Pregnancy Effects (When Should You Avoid?)

MSG in small portions (like once in a month) is completely safe during pregnancy. However, here are events when you should avoid having MSG in this period

1. If You Were Allergic To MSG Before Pregnancy

If you have experienced one or more of the above symptoms whenever you have taken MSG earlier, you should avoid eating it during pregnancy. It is because when you are pregnant, your immune system is protecting your womb so the effects and allergic reactions could multiply. Some of the allergic reactions of MSG include

  • Heavy sweating
  • Flushing
  • Headache and muscle tightening
  • Chest pain and numbness
  • Nausea

2. If You Are Consuming Too Much Of Glutamate

Excessive amount of MSG may release free Glutamates in the body. Glutamate may harm the baby by breaking down the placental barrier of food supply to the foetus; which means

  • Your baby will be exposed to everything in your blood – the good and bad both
  • Unlike you, the baby’s immune system is not strongly built. So, when the foetus is exposed it may not be able to fight the germs and external allergens
  • The free glutamate can also travel to the brain neurons and regulate them

3. If You Are Facing Water Retention

Water retention is common during pregnancy especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Signs include swollen feet, fingers and palms. The major contributor to this issue is salt. Therefore, if your body is retaining too much water, avoid salt and MSG.

How To Deal With MSG in Pregnancy?

Although, there is no proven record or scientific analysis that Monosodium Glutamate has adverse effect on pregnant women or babies, hormonal changes can heighten allergic reactions to additives. Therefore the best possible way to deal the situation is to

  • Avoid MSG if you are allergic
  • Restrict to one or two MSG added meals a month
  • Avoid in pregnancy above 35
  • Avoid MSG if there are other complications such as Placenta Previa or Preeclampsia
  • Exercise caution if you have record of miscarriages or
  • Avoid consuming it altogether to be on the safer side

If you have even a small ounce of doubt about the use of this ingredient it is better to avoid it. Because it’s a matter of nine months and nothing is worthier than the health of your baby, right?

Since FDA has made it mandatory that all food companies should mention MSG content in packaging, while buying instant, canned or packaged foods, make sure you check the label for surety.


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