Is it safe to use insect repellent (DEET) while I'm pregnant?
DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as
N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) is the most widely used insect repellent .
DEET-based insect repellents effectively repel most mosquitoes, biting flies,
chiggers, fleas and ticks
A study of rats and rabbits fed different concentrations of DEET found
no evidence of fetal toxic effects or malformations in the offspring of exposed
animals, regardless of the dose used. There are no studies on the use of DEET
during the first trimester of human pregnancy.
One study of 449 pregnant women exposed to DEET during the second and
third trimester found DEET crossed the placenta. However, no adverse effects
were seen on survival, growth, or development at birth or at 1 year of age in
the offsrping of exposed women..
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that pregnant women should take precautions to reduce their risk for
West Nile virus and other
infections by avoiding mosquitoes and by using protective clothing and
repellents containing DEET per manufacturers'
Schoenig GP, et. al., Teratological evaluations of DEET in rats and
rabbits. Fund Appl Toxicol1994;23:63-9. [PubMed]
McGready R, et. al., Safety of the insect repellent N,N-diethyl-M-toluamide (DEET)
Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2001 Oct;65(4):285-9. PMID: 11693870
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Intrauterine West Nile virus
infection--New York, 2002.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2002 Dec 20;51(50):1135-6.PMID: 12537289
Reviewed by Mark Curran, M.D., FACOG