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Mixed messages about DEET and pregnancy

(12 Posts)
lljkk Wed 05-Sep-12 14:40:37

I think the logic of shovelling large amounts into small animals is that they have shorter lifespans (& pregnancies), so you're trying to replicate the same effects that you'd get by giving chronic lower less invasive doses to human beings. Also, looking for effects over large populations but only using up small amounts of animals to do it.

From what I quickly saw, seemed like both kinds of studies (low topical skin dose, and injected to the hilt), and everything in between, have sometimes raised concerns in mammals. So we know at some point there is an unsafe dose level, but finding it precisely in humans is tricky without the sorts of studies that would mostly be considered unethical.

PigletJohn Wed 05-Sep-12 11:51:31


when you say animal studies which do find ill effects on developing fetuses are these studies with application, on the skin, at typical doses, frequency and amount equivalent to what would be used on a human?

you're not thinking of the kind of tests where you shovel huge quantities of a product into an animal to see how much it takes to cause a problem?

lljkk Sun 02-Sep-12 18:26:28

There was a good quality 2001 study that observed no ill effects among newborns, in a malaria-prone population, 2nd & 3rd trimester regular application. Every link I pursue about this question seems to go back to the good results of that single study as the foundation for saying DEET is safe.

And yet lots of animal studies which do find ill effects on developing fetuses. And a handful of human studies with some ambiguous results.

My reservation is that science needs lots of studies saying same thing, not just one or two quality studies. Before we can feel very confident.

So I can see why the general advice has changed, but it's also a risk that most people can easily avoid with other repellents that seem less risky. Unless you're having to fend off something as scary as malaria, anyway, even I would use DEET then. I am very susceptible to midge bites but find Mosiguard effective.

PigletJohn Mon 06-Aug-12 13:04:26

I can't find the advice you mean, but very often they are for products which nobody has tested on large numbers of pg, therefore there is no evidence that they are either safe, or dangerous.

I would have thought though that as DEET is so widely used, there would be patterns emerging in tropical areas, if a pattern was to be found.

extratoastwiththat Sun 05-Aug-12 19:51:38


extratoastwiththat Sun 05-Aug-12 19:50:34

Much better to use DEET-free - and there are plenty around now. Alfresco is a great one.

Only some essential oils are best avoided in pregnancy - most, like lavender, can be used freely.

DEET is very strong and nasty. I know that's not scientific, but I can't remember what it consists of!

HeffalumpsAndWoozles Sun 05-Aug-12 19:45:41

I spoke to the pharmacist in my local Boots about which insect repellents and bite relief creams were safe while pregnant and he just told me there are none... Im not sure that's right tbh but I know deet/essential oils are to be avoided. As for why, not sure on that either.


justonemorethread Sun 05-Aug-12 19:34:33

Consistently? <looks for brain>

justonemorethread Sun 05-Aug-12 19:33:30

Out of interest lamia do you know what the negative effects of using deet are meant to be, or at least the ones that come up more consistantly?
I used in early pregnancy and sometimes even on baby after 6 months when I had no alternative...
Sometimes I wonder if it had affected her at all.

bumbleymummy Sun 05-Aug-12 19:28:00

It does contain essential oils so you'd probably have to check whether the ones that are in it are safe during pregnancy.

bumbleymummy Sun 05-Aug-12 19:26:33

If you're worried you could use a DEET free one. Buggeroff is a New Zealand brand. Maybe worth looking into?

Lamia25 Sun 05-Aug-12 19:15:24

I wonder if anyone can clarify whether or not it is safe to use insect repellant containing 50% DEET in the first trimester? I have searched for information extensively on the internet and found some very conflicting advice; some of which has been from the same healthcare system, different websites (the NHS!)
Thanks in advance smile

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