Women are especially concerned about health risks during pregnancy that could affect their child. Some chemicals and drugs are known to have adverse effects and are to be avoided. To be safe, many pregnant women try to avoid as many chemicals as possible. What about mosquito repellents? Should they be avoided? This question becomes more important as Zika virus spreads. The bottom line: There should be no worry about repellent use. The worry should be about NOT using repellent. Exposure to Zika is a far greater risk than repellent use.
Mosquito repellents are safe for pregnant women when used according to directions. There are no documented cases of adverse effects or other harm to babies born to mothers who used mosquito repellents. In areas where Zika is spread, the risk of harm from Zika can be greatly reduced by using repellents. The Environmental Working Group has a useful guide to repellents that compares effectiveness. Repellents have labels that indicate effectiveness of the product. Chose a product that is effective. “Natural” products are not necessarily “safer” than scientifically designed products.
As always, guidelines for repellent use should be followed. When indoors, repellent can be washed from the skin with soapy water. Repellents can be used to treat clothing as well as skin. Covering the skin and avoiding areas with high mosquito populations is advisable. Window screens and measures that prevent mosquito entry indoors are a must.