Can Pregnant Mums Safely Use Mosquito Repellant?
Generally pregnant women are told to avoid chemicals, some which are most effective at repelling mosquitos. Can pregnant mums safely use mosquito repellant?
With the scary news of Zika virus hitting Malaysian shores, its understandable that expecting parents are now worrying about how to protect themselves and their unborn children. Some parents are even considering putting off having children rather than exposing them to the risk of life long impairment.
The possible connection between Zika virus and microcephaly, a potentially fatal condition in infants, is a serious concern for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant. Microcephaly is a birth defect that results in babies born with abnormally small heads, which may lead to developmental delays.
Women are being told to take all possible measures to prevent mosquito bites, including using some pretty heavy-duty insect repellants. But generally, pregnant women are told to avoid chemicals, one of them being DEET, which is most effective at repelling mosquitos.
So can I safely use DEET if I'm pregnant?
There are no current vaccines or treatments for the Zika virus. Preventing bites remains key to avoiding it.
Although there are limited studies looking at the effects of DEET during pregnancy, experts say that it is safe to use when proper precautions have been taken. This means reading the labels and not over-applying. The higher the percentage of DEET in the repellant, the less often you need to re-apply it.
Picaridin is an alternative form of insect repellent that is safe to use during pregnancy. There are plant-based mosquito repellants, such as oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) and citronella, but these tend to have limited effectiveness because they evaporate quickly. They should not be relied on in high risk areas.
Take other precautions
Use an insect repellent containing 10 percent DEET or picaridin, both of which are considered safe for pregnant and nursing women and children older than 2 months when used according to the product label.
Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants and then apply the repellent to your clothes besides using repellant on your exposed skin.
Stay inside during peak mosquito hours, from dawn to dusk, as much as possible. Mosquitoes carrying dengue and Zika bite most during daylight hours.
Sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms.
Make sure your home is clean and free of standing water, which enable mosquitos to breed easily.