Is It Safe To Have Pest Control While Pregnant: Effects & Precuations

Having Pest Control during Pregnancy – Is It Harmful?

Pest control during pregnancy is a lot more important than you think it is. The existence of chemicals and other substances in pest control might make you wonder if that decision may be the wrong one. However, the presence of pests is a problem that can affect pregnancy in multiple ways, and keeping that under control is necessary. Let’s dive into the issue and discover the best possible ways to deal with pests, how to keep your pregnancy safe during pest control, and how to prevent pests from developing in future.

Is Pest Control Safe During Pregnancy?

Most modern pest control methods don’t use harsh industrial-grade chemicals to carry out pest control, but still, they carry a certain level of toxicity that pose a risk during pregnancy. While modern and safe pest-control methods might be safe, it is still better to avoid being home while pest control takes place to keep you away from any kind of chemical contact altogether.

Effects of Pesticide Exposure in Pregnancy

Whether you end up inhaling pesticides during pregnancy or tend to come in contact with a powder or spray of any kind, being exposed to that kind of chemicals and substances may not always be safe and harmless to you as well as your child. Some pesticides are known to cause severe effects during pregnancy, including birth defects, miscarriage, and learning or developmental disabilities in children. A 2020 study found an increased risk for holoprosencephaly (HPE) after maternal exposure during pregnancy to pesticides, including personal insect repellants and insecticides and acaricides for pets.

  • Pyrethroids are quite a common constituent in pesticides, which can be quite detrimental to the development of the foetus in the mother’s belly. It may cause a severe reduction in the IQ of the child at a vital stage of his growth, which many experts seem to find similar to that of being exposed to lead.
  • Organochlorines are also a popular category of pesticides. A few studies have linked the exposure of these to pregnant women, resulting in children that suffered from problems related to focus and attention, which could even be ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • Apart from affecting the behavioural function in children, multiple studies have observed that exposure to pesticides does affect cognitive function as well. Organophosphates have been deemed to be quite harmful in that regard. Not only does their presence substantially increases the risk of premature delivery, but children born after that have shown slow mental development for up to 2 years as well as reflex action that is abnormal in nature.

Pest Control That Should Be Watched

The chemicals and substances included in the treatment methodologies used for pest control do have their risks. A certain degree of caution should be undertaken while opting to go ahead with pest control, more than ever so in the initial trimesters. However, avoiding or postponing pest control altogether may turn out to bring more harm than good.

Anything and everything from cockroaches to mosquitoes and fleas to flies can end up leaving diseases and illnesses that are equally dangerous to accidental pesticide exposure. These illnesses could be caused by bacteria or viruses of various kinds, some of which have been known to be fatal as well. Even if they are not, their effect on the pregnant woman can be substantial, leading the foetus to be born with birth defects or other complications. The American Pregnancy Association advises avoiding pesticide exposure, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy, as during this time, the neural tubes in the baby’s brain are developing.

Why Are Pest Infestations a Concern for Pregnant Women?

The risks of exposure to pesticides at home while pregnant are a lot less than the concern of an infestation of various pests within the home.

The most common infestations in households are due to cockroaches. The waste matter that emerges from the cockroach’s body has been known to trigger allergies in children as well as adults. A constant problem with breathing and asthma may not be good for a pregnant woman and could morph later into a respiratory issue as well.

Many homes tend to have pets. They may not harm your pregnancy directly, but they definitely are culprits when it comes to introducing your homes to fleas. These then end up biting your body, leaving tiny bite marks which itch a lot. The moment you scratch them, the infection tends to spread even more.

Any kind of pests that reside in a home do have their own set of problems. Their effect is higher on a pregnant woman. Therefore, pest control is a matter of priority for sure. And the same can be attained by keeping your own exposure to pesticides as minimal as possible.

Tips to Stay Safe While Having Pest Control Around You

When undertaking pest control, bed bug pesticides and pregnancy are best kept far away from each other as much as possible. Making use of a few easy tips can make things easier for you in a simple way.

  • Recently, a lot of pest control professionals have started using chemicals and substances that carry a substantially lower risk for home use. In any case, it still works to your benefit to be fully aware of the pesticides being used and understand their ill effects in case of exposure. Avoid choosing pesticides by yourself and double-check the ones used by professionals.
  • When contacting a company that offers pest control services, go for licensed pet technicians and talk to them about your pregnancy very well. This will help them prepare in advance and check if they can carry out the same by using options that don’t make use of such chemicals. If that may not be a possibility, most companies will give you advice on how you can maintain your distance from the home as well as procedures to enter back safely.
  • Undertaking pest control by yourself should be done with extreme precaution. It is best that someone else takes over this responsibility. Application of any chemicals or powders should be controlled and in the minimum required amount. This is highly preferred over spraying your home completely with chemicals. Keep every edible item in a safe place and store away all utensils and seal the drawers.
  • Pest control may also be conducted in the surrounding area of your home. In that case, it is best for you to stay indoors and keep all doors and windows shut tight. Make sure you keep away from those areas after they are disinfected or cover yourself properly.
  • Mosquito protection is generally done by using mosquito creams. However, ensure you get the insect or mosquito repellant with the lowest concentration of DEET, picaridin, para-menthane-diol, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535, as per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The only downside is that you must apply the cream multiple times if you are outside longer. The protection level is the same across all concentrations.

If your partner or any other family member works at a place which makes use of pesticides or has had pest control, they need to keep their work clothes away and outside the home prior to entering. Maintaining high standards of hygiene is also required.

What Can You Do to Prevent or Remove the Pests in the Home?

While pest control is necessary, you can do your best to ensure that your interaction with pests is minimal. A few techniques can help prevent that or even drive the pests away from your home.

  • Keep all food items stored properly and dispose of any rubbish or waste food as soon as possible.
  • Prefer eating food in a specific area of the house rather than eating in bed or on the sofa.

Are There Any Alternatives to Chemical Pesticides?

Home pesticides and pregnancy might be a better alternative than using chemical pesticides, along with a few important ways of tackling everyday pests.

  • Using glue-based traps to keep cockroaches at bay.
  • Keeping areas dry to avoid fruit flies.
  • Using heat and light traps to divert mosquitoes.
  • Applying flea repellents on pets.

Spraying pesticides while pregnant may not be the best choice. But avoiding pest control completely is even worse. Arriving at a balance between the two can help you keep your pregnancy safe and secure at all times.


1. Pregnancy and pesticides; HealthyWA – Government of Western Australia;

2. What about using pesticides if I am pregnant or have a baby?; National Pesticide Information Center – Oregon State University;

3. Pesticides and Pregnancy; American Pregnancy Association;

4. Pesticides – Reproductive Health; The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) – CDC;

5. Addissie. Y. A, Kruszka. P, et al.; Prenatal exposure to pesticides and risk for holoprosencephaly: a case-control study; Environmental Health volume 19, Article number: 65 (2020); BMC;

6. Using Bug Killers and Repellents During Pregnancy; Nemours KidsHealth;

7. Pest Control for Expectant Mothers;;

8. Mother’s Exposure to Pesticides during Pregnancy Results in Sleep-Related Problems among Daughters; Beyond Pesticides;

Also Read:

Is It Safe to Paint While Pregnant
Toxic Chemicals You Must Avoid in Pregnancy
Using Perfume and Deodorant during Pregnancy

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