We live in the South, where insects are a major problem. But now that I’m pregnant, I’m afraid to use any kind of bug killer or repellent. Are some OK?
Pesticides are considered poisons and pregnant women should stay away from them as much as possible. Exposure may cause miscarriage, premature delivery, and birth defects. You can use safer methods of removal such as boric acid, which you should be able to find at your local hardware store.
As for insect repellents (which may contain DEET, or N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), the risks aren't fully known. So far, studies have not proven that DEET poses a health hazard to unborn babies, but some of the chemical may reach the baby. Some health care providers advise pregnant women to use insect repellents, including those containing DEET, because they help to reduce exposure to mosquito bites that may carry potentially serious viruses. If you use a repellent, do not use more than you need to, and wash it off when you get indoors.
Other, non-repellent precautions you can take against insect bites include:
- Avoid going outdoors when insects such as mosquitoes are most actively biting (usually dusk and dawn).
- Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors to reduce the amount of exposed skin that insects can bite.
- Keep doors and windows closed or with tight-fitting screens with no holes where insects can enter the house.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: October 2012
|American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) This site offers information on numerous health issues. The women's health section includes readings on pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum care, breast health, menopause, contraception, and more.|
|Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) The EPA is the government agency that works to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment.|
|Pregnancy Precautions: FAQs Questions regarding what you can and can't do during pregnancy abound. Knowing what could truly be harmful to your baby versus what's no real cause for concern is key to keeping your sanity throughout the 40 weeks.|
|How Can I Protect My Family From Ticks? Find out what the experts say.|
|Pregnancy & Newborn Center Advice and information for expectant and new parents.|
|West Nile Virus The threat of West Nile virus has made getting a mosquito bite a cause for concern. What is West Nile virus, and what can you do to prevent it?|
|Bug Bites and Stings In most cases, bug bites and stings are just nuisances. But in some cases, they can cause infections and allergic reactions. It's important to know the signs, and when to get medical attention.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2014 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com