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Is it safe to use insect repellent while pregnant?

Summertime is synonymous with sunny days and balmy nights… and blood sucking mosquito pests that will ruin everything. Well, in Singapore it is summer all year round and with the recent rise in Dengue cases, it is good to know if insect repellent and pregnancy are a safe mix.

While the thought of the itchy aftermath is enough to keep you covered up behind closed doors the real danger an expecting mother faces is the potential risk of contracting nasty diseases – some of which can proof to be fatal.

Mosquitoes can carry Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus and much dreaded Malaria, and while Malaria is not a real threat in Singapore, Dengue is prevalent in the Singapore. In order to best protect yourself and your little one, you need to take precautions when you participate in outdoor activities, especially if mosquitoes are a real problem in your neighbourhood.

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Insect repellents afford you great protection, but what are the concerns about insect repellent and pregnancy? Are they safe to use? Many pregnant and breastfeeding mummies have been worrying about the same thing.

Insect repellent and pregnancy

The best and most effective insect repellents contain DEET, a substance which is not only effective against mosquitoes, but gnats, sand flies, ticks, mites and fleas as well. The good news is you can lay your fears about DEET-based insect repellents to rest.

Based on a study conducted in Thailand, there are no adverse effects found in pregnant women who used insect repellent, and it had no influence on the survival or development of a foetus, even if measurable amounts of DEET gets absorbed – between five and ten percent. In fact, limited studies have shown traces of DEET in cord blood, and still no signs of any side effects.

However, we recommend to stay away from any chemicals. Instead, use natural insect repellents like those with citronella oils. Better to be extra safe. However, if you do use DEET-based repellents, read on.

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The Centre of Disease Control strongly advise expecting mummies to rather use mosquito repellents as opposed to risking contracting any of the more serious and threatening conditions. That said; it is best to play on the side of caution when it comes to pesticide insect repellents and pregnancy.

Recommendations for using DEET insect repellent and pregnancy

In order to minimise your exposure to the pesticide, always use the lowest concentration of DEET you can find. A concentration of ten percent or less offers as much protection as the higher concentrates, but is only effective for shorter periods of time.

  • Try to avoid spraying or applying insect repellent on your exposed skin–cover up as much as possible. It is much better to use the insect repellent on your clothes. To avoid irritation, never apply insect repellent to the skin underneath your clothes.
  • Do not slather on the repellent. Heavier application does not mean more protection.

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  • Never apply insect repellent to open cuts and wounds, and do not use on inflamed, irritated or allergic skin.
  • Always wash your hands after application. Insect repellents are only harmless as long as they are not ingested.
  • Only apply insect repellents in well ventilated areas to avoid breathing in aerosol fumes.

Alternatively, you can use insect repellents containing permethrin and apply it directly to your clothes for the best all round protection. Just be sure to never apply this product directly to you skin, and read the instructions carefully.

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Source: Insect Repellent Safety and Usage

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