Prevent Mosquito Bites During Pregnancy

Smart tips for moms-to-be and moms now

woman spraying bug repellent on arm

The Zika outbreak of 2016 served as a reminder that mosquitoes can be a health threat. It’s always a good idea to avoid mosquito bites. Here’s how moms-to-be and new moms can protect themselves and their children.

Bundle Up
Clothing is your first line of defense. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and socks, and hat. Clothing treated with permethrin repels and kills mosquitoes and other bugs. Stay clear of areas where mosquitoes hang out, like puddles, ponds, and pools. Try to get rid of any standing water in your yard.

Use the Right Stuff
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that pregnant women and most children can use insect repellents as long as they follow the same steps as anyone else. Use only approved products that have a registration number from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Look for “EPA Reg. No.” on the label.

The CDC says products containing the following active ingredients typically provide reasonably long-lasting protection:

  • DEET
  • Picaridin
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • IR3535

If you have concerns about one of these active ingredients, ask your pediatrician. Sarah Obican, MD, a maternal fetal specialist, recommended in a New York Times article that pregnant women who want to be “extremely cautious” can use a repellent with a lower concentration of active ingredient and apply it more often.

Use the EPA search tool to help choose a repellent right for you.

The Environmental Working Group also provide tips for using bug repellents when pregnant:

For Your Protection

  • Always read and follow instructions on the label. Do not apply more than directed.
  • Put repellent on exposed skin or clothing only. Do not use under clothing.
  • Avoid applying near eyes and mouth.
  • Never apply repellent on a cut, wound, or irritated skin.
  • If using spray repellent, do not spray on face. Spray on hands, then apply to face.

To Keep the Kids Safe
Follow the same rules as above plus:

  • Do not use insect repellents on children younger than 2 months.
  • Never allow children to handle or apply insect repellent.
  • Do not apply repellent to a child’s hands or let children handle repellent.
  • Wash child’s skin with soap and water when back indoors. Wash clothes before child wears again.
  • Do not use oil of lemon eucalyptus products on children under age 3.
  • Do not use products with more than 30% DEET.