During pregnancy, women may turn to alternative therapies to treat common conditions, such as ginger for nausea and vomiting or cranberry to prevent urinary tract infections. Wheatgrass juice is rich in nutrients and, like other folk remedies, is said to offer a number of health benefits, from aiding digestion to detoxing the body (see reference 2 under introduction para 1). However, as a sprout there are concerns that wheatgrass juice may not be a safe food for pregnant women due to the potential for contamination with foodborne bacteria. If you're taking wheatgrass or its juice, talk to your doctor to discuss safety during pregnancy.
Although a good source of essential nutrients, there's no indication for its use during pregnancy, and as a sprout wheatgrass is a risky food or supplement to include in your diet. Bacterial contamination in the wheatgrass may come from the seeds, which can imbed themselves in the grass as it grows. There's also potential for contamination from poor hygienic conditions during cultivation (see reference 3 under PATHOGENS OF CONCERN (HAZARDS para 2,3). Plus, the warm and humid conditions needed to grow the grass are also the ideal conditions for bacteria. Potential contaminants include E. coli, salmonella and listeria (see reference 3 under PATHOGENS OF CONCERN (HAZARDS) and under Annex 1 - SURVEILLANCE SAMPLING OF SPROUTS:).
Wheatgrass and Pregnancy
Pregnant women are more susceptible to certain bacteria, including listeria and salmonella, due to hormonal changes that decrease immune function (see reference 4 para 1 under Abstract). Infection with either one of these bacteria can significantly impact the outcome of the pregnancy and the health of the baby (see reference 4 under Soft-ripened cheeses, deli meats, refrigerated ready-to-eat foods para 2, under Raw or soft-cooked eggs). The primary problem with sprouts like wheatgrass is that there is no safe way to eradicate the bacteria, according to the Food and Drug Administration (see reference 3 under CURRENT RETAIL SPROUTING INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICES). Contact your obstetrician immediately if you're experiencing flu-like symptoms, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea after drinking wheatgrass juice.